Back to Basics: Size Protests and Appeals

When a business is poised to win a federal contract award set aside for small businesses, there is always the potential for a competitor to challenge that award on the basis that the proposed winner is not actually a small business based on SBA’s size and affiliation rules. Or, if your company just lost an award, you may consider challenging that the proposed winner is a small business. Either way, it pays to know the basics behind size protests and appeals. While you could read through my recent handbook on Procedures and Pitfalls of Size Protests and Appeals (it’s a good read!), here are some key things to keep in mind when considering size protests and appeals.

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YouTube Tuesday: Timing is Everything- Filing Size Protests

As with many things, when filing a size protest with the Small Business Administration, timing is of the utmost importance! In this YouTube video, we walk you through how to file your size protest on time to avoid dismissal:

Stay tuned to the blog for more important information on size protests and government contracting! And if you think you might have a size protest and require assistance call Koprince Law– before it’s too late!

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Years after Expiration of Mentor-Protégé Agreement, Joint Venture Still Small Based on Proposal Date

SBA regulations say that size is determined as of the date an offeror submits its initial proposal, with price. On its face, this rule seems pretty straight forward. But what happens if the initial proposal was filed six years ago? And what if the joint venture that submitted the proposal has since expired?

Following OHA’s recent logic, the proposal-date rule stands even in these unique circumstances.

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OHA Rules that Size Protest Wasn’t Five Years Too Late

As we’ve discussed in previous posts, if you want to initiate a size protest, you generally must do so within 5 business days after the contracting officer notifies you of the prospective awardee’s identity.

But what happens if, after learning that you did not receive the award, the agency does something that suggests its award decision wasn’t final–e.g., reopens discussions with offerors and seeks revised proposals? Would your size protest still be late if didn’t file within the 5-day time frame?

Take a guess. And keep reading to find out the answer!

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GSA Schedule BPA Award Does not Allow for Size Protest

Generally, a size protest must be filed within five business days of when the protester receives notice of the identity of the awardee.  But there are some nuances to this rule, such as whether a corrective action will extend the deadline and whether the clock starts running upon notice of the prospective awardee or the actual contract award date (Hint: notice of awardee).

But when does the 5-day protest period start to run in the context of a Blanket Purchase Agreement issued under a GSA Schedule contract? A recent SBA Office of Hearings and Appeals decision is a reminder that the award of a BPA does not trigger a new 5-day period to file a size protest.

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SBA Size Protest Deadlines: What About Corrective Action?

If a prospective contractor wishes to file a size protest, it must act quickly: the protester ordinarily has five business days to initiate its protest. But does the deadline get extended if the agency takes corrective action in response to a bid protest?

Maybe, maybe not.  A recent SBA Office of Hearings and Appeals decision examines that question.

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Kingdomware Doesn’t Affect SBA Size Protest Timeliness, Says SBA OHA

The Supreme Court’s now-famous Kingdomware decision doesn’t affect the timeliness of SBA size protests of GSA Schedule orders.

In a recent decision, the SBA Office of Hearings and Appeals rejected the notion–based in part on Kingdomware–that an GSA Schedule order is a “contract” for purposes of the SBA’s size protest timeliness rules.  Instead, OHA held, the SBA’s existing rules clearly distinguish between contracts and orders, and often effectively do not permit size protests of individual orders.

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