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
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.Continue reading
A “similarly situated entity” cannot be an ostensible subcontractor under the SBA’s affiliation rules.
In a recent size appeal decision, the SBA Office of Hearings and Appeals confirmed that changes made to the SBA’s size regulations in 2016 exempt similarly situated entities from ostensible subcontractor affiliation.
So you’ve teamed with an ineligible incumbent contractor to bid on some government work and, to try and maintain continuity, the incumbent would like to retain project management functions. “No big deal,” you think, “I’ll just create a management position to oversee the project manager.”
Actually, it could be a big deal if you’re trying to avoid ostensible subcontractor affiliation. Among the four key factors for determining ostensible subcontractor affiliation is whether the management previously served with the subcontractor under the incumbent contract. And according to a recent SBA Office of Hearings and Appeals decision, creating a figurehead management position to oversee the project manager won’t negate this indicia of ostensible subcontractor affiliation.