Breaking: SBA Proposed Rule Gives OHA Jurisdiction over HUBZone Status Protests

The Small Business Administration (SBA) has proposed to amend the rules of practice for its Office of Hearings and Appeals (OHA) and the Historically Underutilized Business Zone (HUBZone) Program to “implement procedures authorizing appeals to OHA” from adverse status determination protests for certified HUBZone small business concerns. Currently, HUBZone status protest determinations are decided by the Associate Administrator of Government Contracting and Business Development per 13 C.F.R. § 126.805. But those appeals, in our experience, are fairly limited and SBA does not publish the appeal decisions, meaning they provide little help for companies and attorneys wishing to understand how SBA interprets its HUBZone This is a big step for SBA and will certainly bring consistency and insights to the protest process and regulatory interpretation for HUBZone participants, bringing that program more in line with other SBA programs.

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Federal Court Confirms Strict SDVOSB Unconditional Ownership Requirements

As we’ve discussed, the SBA will soon take the reins over from VA to run the certification process for Veteran-Owned Small Businesses (VOSBs) and Service-Disabled, Veteran-Owned Small Businesses (SDVOSBs). Self-certification for SDVOSBs will go away on December 31, 2023, so be sure to get your SDVOSB ownership and control documents up to snuff in order to stay compliant with the SDVOSB rules. One of those rules concerns unconditional ownership by the veteran. A recent federal court case sheds some additional light on that topic, as explored in this post.

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Back to Basics: Size Protests and Appeals

When a business is poised to win a federal contract award set aside for small businesses, there is always the potential for a competitor to challenge that award on the basis that the proposed winner is not actually a small business based on SBA’s size and affiliation rules. Or, if your company just lost an award, you may consider challenging that the proposed winner is a small business. Either way, it pays to know the basics behind size protests and appeals. While you could read through my recent handbook on Procedures and Pitfalls of Size Protests and Appeals (it’s a good read!), here are some key things to keep in mind when considering size protests and appeals.

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NAICS, The Final Frontier: OHA Rejects NAICS Size Standard Exception as Inapplicable to NASA Solicitation

This matter again involves NASA and a particularly interesting government procurement, this time concerning NAICS appeals. NAICS codes, or the North American Industry Classification System codes, are how both businesses are classified by their industry and procurements are classified by what they’re for. If the procurement uses an inappropriate NAICS code, a protestor can appeal this code determination. It is important to note that some NAICS codes have “exceptions” which can affect their corresponding size standards. For example, NAICS code 541330, “Engineering,” has a size standard of $16.5 million, but, if the engineering services are for military equipment and weapons, an exception applies that balloons the size standard to $35.5 million. But, just like regular NAICS codes, these exceptions have to make sense in light of the kind of solicitation in question, leading us to this matter.

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SBA Rule Tamps Down Joint Venture Unequivocal Control Requirement

The SBA’s new rule on Consolidation of Mentor-Protégé Programs contained a lot of updates. One of those concerned the level of control that a lead joint venture member has to have over a joint venture.

In particular, SBA now says that the lead venturer doesn’t have to have unequivocal control as the Office of Hearings and Appeals had suggested in the past. The other joint venture partners can have some say in the joint venture, but how much?

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Don’t Forget the Attachments: A Quick Reminder from SBA’s OHA

Did you remember to staple the cover sheet to your TPS report? And, more importantly, if you recently filed a CVE Appeal with the Small Business Administration’s Office of Hearings and Appeals, did you remember to attach a copy of your CVE denial or cancellation?

In OHA’s recent, and very short, decision, Joy Corporation, SBA No. CVE-155-A (Aug. 13, 2020), it reminded appellants that failure to do so will result in almost instant dismissal. To ensure you avoid this fate, read on.

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