To be awarded a government contract, a company must do more than submit the winning proposal — it must be “responsible.” The concept of responsibility in government contracting is far-reaching and can include such things as having adequate financial resources, a satisfactory ethical record, acceptable past performance, and even required security clearances.
On July 15, please join me and Chris Coleman as we discuss this cornerstone of government contracting in a session hosted by Govology. Chris and I will cover responsibility in-depth, including what is inclued in the FAR’s definition of responsibility, how the government evaluates responsibility, and how a small business can challenge a non-responsibility determination through the SBA’s Certificate of Competency process.
It’s easy to register: just click here. See you on July 15!
You can’t believe it. You did everything right. The solicitation required that offerors have three distinct licenses. You have two, but one should cover for the license you don’t have. However, the agency says you have to have all three as distinct licenses, and denies your offer. Fortunately, you have a potential savior: The Certificate of Competency (“COC”)
For small businesses, the SBA’s Certificate of Competency process can offer a powerful “second bite at the apple,” essentially allowing a small business to appeal to the SBA if a procuring agency finds the small business non-responsible.
But the SBA CoC process is limited to findings of non-responsibility under FAR Part 9. As GAO recently held, there is no right to appeal to SBA if the proposal was rejected for failing to adequately explain the small business’s technical approach.
A company that is nonresponsive to an Invitation for Bid (IFB), or any solicitation for that matter, will usually be rejected for consideration for award. All too often, when a nonresponsive finding is made, there is no coming back.
A recent decision from GAO shines light on what it means to be “nonresponsive” and “not responsible.” GAO confirmed that SAM registration submitting annual certifications are matters of responsibility, not responsiveness.
What is the difference? Let’s look at the two terms and their practical effect on a company’s ability to cure deficiencies.
Contractor responsibility is to be considered before every federal contract award, but what about task orders issued under an FSS contract? Are contractors still subject to responsibility inquiries when competing for orders?
The Section 809 Panel has recommended that Congress eliminate most small business set-asides for DoD acquisitions. The Panel would replace the longstanding set-aside system with a meager five percent small business price preference.
For small government contractors, this recommendation is the policy equivalent of a five-alarm fire. Small contractors may need to fight hard to save the set-aside system.