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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OHA Remands Area Office’s Conflicting Decision in Concurrent Size and Status Protests

What happens when an SBA area office finds a joint venture compliant with SBA rules in a size protest, but SBA’s Office of Hearings and Appeals says the same agreement fails to meet requirements in a status protest? Let’s find out.

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Too Late for Take-Backs: Ostensible Subcontractor Analysis Won’t Consider Post-Proposal Changes

In Warrior Service Company, LLC, SBA No. SIZ-6046 (Jan. 24, 2020), the SBA reminded small business contractors that it determines whether a contractor has violated the ostensible subcontractor rule as of the date of bid submission; SBA won’t consider any changes that come later.

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