You may have noticed that SBA issued a final rule last week that created sweeping changes to the SBA’s 8(a) Program regulations, but along with that, SBA made sure to slip in a change to the ostensible subcontractor rule that has been a sticking point for many contractors when facing affiliation concerns. With this final rule, SBA will update the regulations to provide contractors certain ways to defend against potential ostensible subcontractor rule affiliation, depending on the type of contract at issue. This represents a shift in thinking, related to how to combat allegations brought under this affiliation rule and could present some new wrinkles for contractors to consider when setting up subcontracting arrangements.Continue reading
In a recent decision, the Small Business Administration (SBA) Office of Hearings and Appeals (OHA) examined a company that received two Small Business Innovation Research (SBIR) grant awards. The SBA Area Office had determined that the awardee was not an eligible small business due to ostensible subcontractor affiliation and other reasons. This decision is an important reminder for SBIR candidates on how they should structure subcontracting teams, as SBA will examine SBIR awardee eligibility.Continue reading
SBA’s Office of Hearing and Appeals (OHA) recently said that the SBA Area Office should have informed the protested concern of the issues its adverse size determination focused on before ruling against the concern’s size eligibility on that basis. In addition to its lesson on due process, OHA also took this opportunity to distinguish totality of the circumstances affiliation (the basis on which the Area Office found affiliation here) from ostensible subcontractor affiliation (the basis for affiliation alleged in the size protest). OHA vacated and remanded the Area Office’s decision.Continue reading
The ostensible subcontractor rule says that, for a small business or socioeconomic set-aside such as 8(a), the small business prime contractor must perform the primary and vital parts of the contract and can’t be unduly reliant on a subcontractor. If the small business is found to violate the rule, the size of the small prime contractor and the large subcontractor are grouped for size purposes, which can result in loss of award. But the ostensible subcontractor rule is different from SBA’s joint venture rules, because SBA rules (and other federal law) distinguish between a prime-sub team and a joint venture. In a recent decision, OHA reversed a determination that a small business prime was affiliated with a subcontractor where the Area Office mixed up the analysis of the ostensible subcontractor rule and the joint venture rules.Continue reading
The SBA’s ostensible subcontractor rule can be a minefield for small prime contractors, who must be careful to avoid risk factors for affiliation with their large subcontractors.
But not every small prime need worry about ostensible subcontractor affiliation. As a recent SBA Office of Hearings and Appeals decision confirms, the ostensible subcontractor rule does not apply to procurements for manufactured products.Continue reading
In a recent decision, OHA ruled that the ostensible subcontractor rule requires a two-prong evaluation before SBA can find affiliation. The SBA Area Office took a look at only one prong, which resulted in a remand from OHA. Ultimately, OHA found affiliation, reversed the SBA Area Office and found the concern ineligible. As OHA made clear, entities can’t fix deficiencies after the fact.
Think of the ostensible subcontractor rule like the preferred go-to move (other than line dancing) at a Country/Western Dance Hall, it is the ostensible subcontractor two-step. Follow along as I lead you through the dance you need to get right to avoid stepping on the toes of your proposal.Continue reading
We’ve discussed the “ostensible subcontractor rule” quite a few times on the blog (including most recently here and here) because it is one of the most frequent grounds for size protests. It’s also frequently misunderstood. A recent SBA Office of Hearings and Appeals decision, Contego Environmental, LLC, SBA No. SIZ-6054 (May 19, 2020), demonstrates how even SBA Area Offices can misapply the rule and provides useful reminders to contractor looking to avoid violating it.Continue reading