Fans of the blog know that we’re wild about joint ventures: they allow small business contractors to use their size status while, at the same time, leveraging their joint venture partner’s experience and capabilities.
But joint ventures—particularly joint ventures under one of the SBA’s socioeconomic programs—can be tricky to create. For joint ventures between a small and a large company, the venturers first need an approved mentor-protégé agreement. And regardless, for the joint venture to qualify under a socioeconomic designation, that joint venture must have a compliant agreement.
But that’s still not enough to create a compliant joint venture. As a recent SBA Office of Hearings and Appeals decision explains, the small business venturer must unequivocally control the joint venture.
As we’ve written about on the blog, SDVOSB regulations were consolidated under the SBA’s rules beginning October 1, 2018, and those changes included some good and bad changes. We recently noticed a single letter in one of the changes that, while most likely a typo, could potentially affect the meaning of one part of the new regulation.
SmallGovCon readers know that the federal government currently operates two SDVOSB socio-economic designations: a VA-specific program (that requires the business to be verified by the VA’s Center for Verification and Evaluation), and a program through the SBA (that allows the business to self-certify).
These dual programs have been the source of confusion among SDVOSBs. Thankfully, relief might be on the way, as the House Small Business Committee has introduced legislation to consolidate SDVOSB verification under the SBA.
New, consolidated SDVOSB eligibility regulations kicked in on October 1. The new regulations replace the old VA and SBA rules, which provided separate eligibility standards for SDVOSBs.
Veterans have long been confused by the fact that the Government operated two separate SDVOSB programs, each with its own standards. The consolidated rule will eliminate that confusion, and that’s a very good thing. There are also several other pieces of the new SDVOSB eligibility rule that veterans should like–but also some that aren’t so great, or that require further clarification as to how they’ll be applied.
We provided a broader overview of the new regulations earlier last week. Now it’s time for me to get on my soapbox. Without further ado, here’s my list of the good, bad, and the downright ugly from the new SDVOSB regulations.
The SBA takes its SDVOSB joint venture requirements very seriously, and even a relatively minor deviation or omission can be enough to render a joint venture ineligible.
Time and time again, the SBA’s Office of Hearing and Appeals has shown that it will strictly enforce the rules governing SDVOSB status. OHA’s stance on SDVOSB joint venture agreements is no different. A recent OHA ruling reinforces that SDVOSB joint venture agreements must abide by the letter of the regulation when it comes to required items in the agreement.
The SBA has released its proposed consolidated rule for SDVOSB eligibility, which was published in the Federal Register today. Once the rule becomes final, it will apply government-wide, to both VA and non-VA SDVOSB contracts.
For SDVOSBs, a uniform set of rules is a very good thing. There has been far too much chaos and confusion under the current system, in which the SBA and VA have different SDVOSB eligibility requirements. But how about the substance of the proposal itself? Well, there are certainly some things to like–and some areas that could use improvement.
The VA has formally proposed to eliminate its SDVOSB and VOSB ownership and control regulations.
Once the proposed change is finalized, the VA will use the SBA’s regulations to evaluate SDVOSB and VOSB eligibility, as required by the 2017 National Defense Authorization Act.