So, your company has made it past the first big hurdle and got on a GSA schedule. You see a small business task order pop up that you believe your company would be perfect for, but another company gets the award. Based on information you have heard or read, you believe something fishy may be going on and the awarded company may be a big fish that found its way into the small pond.
But can you timely protest the task order award?
When you hear “15 days,” what’s the first thing that comes to mind? Perhaps, you pay your employees every 15 days. Maybe your birthday or favorite holiday happens to be in 15 days. Or if you’re like me, you might think that 15 days is two days fewer than Thirteen Days, a great movie about the Cuban Missile Crisis.
Whatever your brain conjures up, don’t forget this: 15 days is the time limit to appeal an SBA size determination. Period. And nothing the contracting officer says can change it.
The SBA has proposed rules to enable contractors to file protests with the SBA Office of Hearings and Appeals challenging the SDVOSB or VOSB status of a company included in the VA’s CVE VetBiz database. The same set of proposed rules would allow a contractor to appeal to OHA if the VA denies the contractor’s application for inclusion in the CVE database, or cancels an existing verification.
The proposed rules, once finalized, will offer important new protections for SDVOSBs and VOSBs and are the first official step in implementing Congress’s mandate that the SBA and VA consolidate their SDVOSB eligibility requirements.
A NAICS code appeal can be a powerful vehicle for influencing the competitive landscape of an acquisition. A successful NAICS code appeal can dramatically alter a solicitation’s size standard, causing major changes in the number (and sizes) of potential competitors.
But a NAICS code appeal cannot be filed until the solicitation is issued. As the SBA Office of Hearings and Appeals recently confirmed, a NAICS code appeal cannot be filed with respect to a presolicitation.
The SBA’s Office of Hearings and Appeals will have authority to hear petitions for reconsideration of SBA size standards under a proposed rule recently issued by the SBA.
Once the proposal becomes a final rule, anyone “adversely affected” by a new, revised or modified size standard would have 30 days to ask OHA to review the SBA’s size standard determination.
Government contractors are expected to be aware of appeal deadlines even if an agency does not mention those deadlines in its decision notifications.
As one contractor recently discovered, a size appeal with the SBA Office of Hearings and Appeals must be filed within the regulatory time frame–and no extension will be granted if the SBA does not notify the potential appellant of the deadline.
A size appeal filed with the SBA Office of Hearings and Appeals may be submitted by email, but it is up to the appellant to verify that its email was received.
As demonstrated in a recent size appeal decision, OHA will dismiss an appeal that is not received by OHA within 15 days of the appellant’s receipt of a size determination–even if the appellant attempted to send the size appeal by email during the 15-day window.