The Coronavirus Stimulus Package Could do More for Small Business Contractors

Congress is expected to pass a huge coronavirus stimulus package in the coming days. While lobbyists and congressional staffers wrestle over the last bits and pieces to find their way in to the bill, there seems to be a pretty important group left out—small business federal contractors.

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The Basics: Socioeconomic Sole Source Awards

Just last week during a Govology webinar on Women-Owned Small Businesses, one of the attendees asked my colleague Haley Claxton and I an insightful question about the different standards for giving sole source awards to participants in various government programs. She wanted to know the difference between how contracting officers go about offering an 8(a) sole source award and a WOSB sole source award.

I had to admit, the practical, ground-level, nitty gritty business of how these awards are doled out doesn’t actually come across my desk that much.

So, let’s take a look, shall we?

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GAO: Sole-Source Bridge Contracts are Acceptable after Corrective Action

Generally, agencies are required to maximize competition for procurements. But there are exceptions to this rule, such as for simplified acquisitions. Another exception is for sole source bridge contracts awarded between the end of an incumbent contract and the start of a new contract.

A recent GAO case explains the rationale for why a sole-source award is usually acceptable in that situation.

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No Competitor Size Protests of 8(a) Sole Source Awards, Says SBA OHA

The SBA’s regulations do not allow an 8(a) company to file a size protest challenging the award of an 8(a) sole source contract to a competitor.

In a recent size appeal decision, the SBA Office of Hearings and Appeals confirmed that size protests relating to 8(a) sole source awards can be filed by contracting officers or the SBA itself–but not by competitors.

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Eagle Eye: Government May Slip a Sole-Source Award Past an Unaware Contractor

Contractors would be wise to keep a close watch on FedBizOpps.gov, otherwise they run the risk missing the chance to protest a sole source award.

When an agency decides to make an award without competition, it often must publish a Justification and Approval (referred to simply as a “J&A”) on FedBizOpps explaining why a competition would not meet the agency’s needs. A potential competitor seeking to protest such an award at the GAO must file the protest before 10 days have passed from publication of the J&A, otherwise the protest may be untimely. A competitor that is not paying attention could be out of luck.

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