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On September 30, 2022, President Biden signed the SBIR and STTR Extension Act of 2022 (the Act), reauthorizing the Small Business Innovation Research (SBIR), Small Business Technology Transfer (STTR), and six pilot programs for three years, until September 30, 2025.  The Act includes new due diligence and reporting requirements, award restrictions, and clawback provisions related to national security risks—particularly regarding firms with ties to China, Russia, North Korea, and Iran—and increased minimum performance standards for multiple SBIR/STTR award winners.  The passage and signing of the Act averted a potential lapse of these programs, which were set to expire the day of the reauthorization.

Continue Reading Congress Passes Last Minute Three-Year SBIR/STTR Reauthorization Including New National Security-Related Restrictions and Requirements

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On September 23, 2022, the FAR Council issued a number of final rules amending the Federal Acquisition Regulation (FAR) to reflect changes previously implemented by the Small Business Administration (SBA) to its regulations on women-owned small businesses and HUBZones, as well as to clarify policy on joint ventures in small business contracting. 

The final rule on HUBZones (87 FR 58232) aligns the FAR’s definition of a HUBZone in provisions and clauses such as FAR 2.101, 52.212-3, 52.219-1, 52.219-8 and 52.219-9 to refer to the requirements described in 13 C.F.R. § 126.200 and SBA’s designation of a HUBZone small business concern in the Dynamic Small Business Search (DSBS). This is in line with the SBA’s recent revisions to the HUBZone regulations via which SBA annually certifies HUBZone entities in order to allow such entities to remain eligible for HUBZone contracts for the entire year rather than such entities being required to represent their status for each offer. Higher-tier contractors are required to confirm that a subcontractor representing itself as a HUBZone small business concern is certified by SBA as a HUBZone small business concern by accessing SAM or by accessing DSBS. The rule also allows contracting officers to award HUBZone set-aside and sole-source contracts at or below the simplified acquisition threshold. 

Continue Reading FAR Updated to Reflect Revised SBA Regulations

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Major changes to the way small business contractors obtain, and agencies evaluate, past performance references are set to arrive on August 22, 2022. On July 22, 2022, the Small Business Administration (SBA) published a final rule implementing provisions of Section 868 of National Defense Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2021. The rule provides two new methods for small business contractors to obtain past performance ratings upon which they may then rely when submitting offers on prime contracts with the Federal Government.

First, a small business offeror may rely on the past performance of a joint venture of which it is a member, as long as the small business was involved in performance of the joint venture’s contract(s).  To that end, when submitting a proposal, the small business must: (1) identify the joint venture; (2) specify the joint venture’s contract(s) the small business elects to rely upon; and (3) detail the duties and responsibilities the small business carried out as part of the joint venture. Provided these requirements are met, the procuring agency shall (per 13 C.F.R. § 125.11) consider the past performance of the joint venture when evaluating the past performance of the small business concern.

Continue Reading SBA to Implement New Methods for Evaluating Expanded Sources of Small Business Past Performance

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On February 24, 2022, the Department of Defense, General Services Administration, and the National Aeronautics and Space Administration proposed to amend the Federal Acquisition Regulation (FAR) to account for changes made by the Small Business Administration (SBA) in its regulations in late 2019 to implement several provisions of the National Defense Authorization Acts of 2016

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This week’s episode covers the final rule implementing further revisions to the Buy American Act, a proposed rule that would amend the FAR to account for recent changes in the Small Business Administration’s regulations, the NIST Secure Software Development Framework, and the first False Claims Act settlement under the DOJ’s Civil Cyber-Fraud Initiative, and is

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In a February 11, 2022 decision, the U.S. Court of Federal Claims (Court) dismissed for lack of interested party status a post-award protest filed by Colsa Corp. (Colsa) in which it challenged the status eligibility of other offerors.

In September 2018, the Missile Defense Agency (MDA) issued a solicitation seeking a single contractor to provide

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This week’s episode covers DoD’s Software Modernization Strategy Memorandum, proposed updates to the DoD’s Mentor-Protégé Program, a GAO report examining the current status of the DoD artificial intelligence weapon systems capabilities, and the National Security Telecommunications Advisory Committee report on Zero Trust and Trusted Identity Management, and is hosted by Peter Eyre and Monica Sterling.

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On February 28, 2022, the Department of Defense (“DoD”) published a proposed rule to reauthorize and improve DoD’s Mentor-Protégé Program (“the Program”).

Briefly, under the Program, approved mentor firms enter into mentor-protege agreements with eligible protege firms to provide developmental assistance to enhance the capabilities of the protégé firms to perform as subcontractors and suppliers

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On February 7, 2022, the Small Business Administration’s (SBA) changes to the “surviving spouse” provision in its regulations on Service Disabled Veteran Owned Small Business (SDVOSB) status became effective.  SBA had issued a direct final rule covering this change, 86 FR 61670, on November 8, 2021.

In brief, SBA’s now provides for a 3-year

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On January 12, 2022, the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the District of Colorado announced a $1.15 million civil settlement in a case implicating misuse of the Small Business Administration’s (SBA) Mentor-Protégé Program.  The settlement is to be partially paid by both the SBA-approved mentor and protégé relating to conduct associated with winning and performing two set-aside awards.

Native American Services Corp. (NASCO) was the mentor to Mirador Enterprises, Inc. (Mirador), a small business and participant in the SBA’s 8(a) Program.  The contracts at issue in this settlement were two Army set-asides for construction projects at Fort Carson—one set-aside for small businesses and one for 8(a) participants.  At the time that Mirador submitted offers as a prime contractor for each of these procurements, Mirador qualified both as a small business and as an 8(a).

The problem, as alleged by DOJ, was that NASCO prepared the bids with the intent that NASCO would primarily perform the contracts.  DOJ further alleged that, after the Army made award to Mirador, NASCO took the lead in the performance of these two contracts and provided assistance that far exceeded what was permitted under the Mentor-Protégé relationship.

Once the government raised concerns about NASCO’s “improper level of involvement,” the parties purportedly doubled down and took steps to conceal how they were actually performing.  As laid out in DOJ’s press release:

  • The parties tried to make it appear that NASCO was transferring employees to Mirador, but these employees remained under NASCO’s control;
  • NASCO provided information to Mirador employees to make them appear more involved or knowledgeable about the contracts than they actually were; and
  • NASCO drafted correspondence for Mirador’s signature, to be submitted to the government.

Of the $1.15 million civil settlement, NASCO will pay $750,000 and Mirador $400,000.

There are two takeaways from this settlement.

Continue Reading DOJ Reaches Settlement in Fraud Case Regarding Misuse of the Mentor-Protégé Program