The SBA’s mentor-protégé program offers powerful benefits. To help ensure that only legitimate small businesses take advantage of the program, the SBA asks applicants a series of questions about potential affiliation between the prospective mentor and protégé.
But once the SBA signs off on a mentor-protégé agreement, that’s that. As the SBA Office of Hearings and Appeals recently confirmed, competitors cannot use the size protest process to challenge whether an SBA mentor-protégé agreement should have been approved in the first place.
So-called “common investments” affiliation under the SBA’s affiliation rules arises most frequently when individuals own common interests in at least two operating companies. But common investments affiliation can also be based on common interests in real estate.
In a recent decision, the SBA Office of Hearings and Appeals held that the SBA had performed an inadequate size determination because the SBA Area Office asked the protested company about common investments in companies–but didn’t directly ask about common investments in real estate.
An 8(a) mentor-protégé agreement, which expired one year after its approval by the SBA, did not protect the 8(a) protégé and its mentor from affiliation–and meant that their 8(a) mentor-protégé joint venture was an ineligible large business.
A recent size appeal decision of the SBA Office of Hearings and Appeals is a cautionary tale for 8(a) protégé and their mentors, and highlights the importance of securing timely SBA reauthorization of 8(a) mentor-protégé agreements.
Assembling components into a commercial item does not make a contractor a “kit assembler” for the purposes of the non-manufacturer rule, according to the SBA Office of Hearings and Appeals.
A recent size appeal required OHA to delve in to what is meant by “kit.” In B GSE Group, LLC, SBA No. SIZ-5679 (Sept. 17, 2015), OHA stated that a kit is not a commercial item that has been purchased in parts and assembled, rather, it is a collection of manufactured items packaged together, like a tool kit.