Sole-Source Options for Agencies During the COVID-19 Pandemic

The current COVID-19 pandemic has prompted the federal government to take drastic measures. It has altered many aspects of federal contracting for contractors and agencies alike. During these trying times, agencies also have the authority to streamline some contracting procedures. Let’s take a look.

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New Avenue for SBA Protests: Ostensible Subcontractor Status Protests

SBA has issued a final rule, effective December 30, that will now provide an avenue to protest situations where the prime contractor on a SDVOSB, HUBZone, or WOSB set-aside contract is subcontracting most or all of the work to a non-similarly situated—but still small business—concern. It will also allow SBA to review eligibility for 8(a) Program contracts on this ground as well.

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SBA Finalizes Rule Allowing Set-Asides Under Small Business MACs

The SBA has published a final rule that would allow for quite the change to small business set-aside multiple award contracts (MACs) and orders issued under them. This final rule amends the SBA’s regulations to authorize task and delivery orders issued under a small business set-aside MAC, to be set-aside for HUBZone businesses, 8(a) businesses, SDVOSBs, or WOSBs. While agencies had set aside orders under MACs before, SBA has now clarified its regulations to allow socioeconomic set-asides of orders under small business set-aside MACs.

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GAO Report Considers Options to Increase “Mid-Sized” Business Opportunities

Earlier this month, GAO produced an over 50-page report, presenting a discussion on options for increasing business opportunities for “mid-sized” businesses. It can be tough to go from being a small business to competing with all large businesses, so GAO took a look at these small-ish large businesses. We know SmallGovCon readers are busy, so we’ll provide the CliffNotes version.

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GAO Reminds Contractors to Update All Profiles After a Name Change or Risk Bid Rejection

Many businesses go through name changes and rebranding throughout their growth as a company. But if you’re a government contractor, a business name change requires added updates that, if not done correctly and promptly, can affect the business’s ability to win a contract. GAO’s recent decision hammered home just how important it is to make sure your contractor profiles are updated if you want to win contracts.

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Small Business Set-Asides: Two Small Manufacturers Required

When an agency acquires manufactured products or supplies, the agency need not set aside the solicitation for small businesses under the FAR’s “rule of two” unless the agency has a reasonable expectation of receiving offers from small businesses offering the products of two or more small manufacturers.

A recent GAO bid protest decision highlights a little-known provision of the FAR, which provides that the “rule of two” does not apply to acquisitions for manufactured products over $150,000 where two or more small business nonmanufacturers are likely to submit offers, but the small business nonmanufacturers will not offer the products of two or more small business manufacturers.

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Small Business Set-Aside Decisions May Include Restrictive “Capability” Requirements

The small business set-aside “rule of two” is not satisfied unless the procuring agency has a reasonable expectation of receiving proposals from at least two small businesses capable of performing the work.

Although this sounds like a commonsense interpretation of the rule of two, it may give agencies leeway to define “capability” in manner that eliminates small businesses from participation.  In a recent bid protest decision, the GAO held that an agency appropriately issued a solicitation as unrestricted based on the agency’s determination that there were not two or more small businesses with at least five years of relevant experience. Of concern, the GAO did not require the agency to prove that five years of relevant experience was necessary to render a firm “capable” of performing the contract.

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