The FAR Council issued a proposed rule on March 7, 2013, that would amend the FAR to mirror recent changes to the Small Business Administration’s procedures for protests and appeals of small business size and status determinations. The rule also seeks to provide uniformity for protests and appeals of status as a HUBZone small business concern, Service-Disabled Veteran-Owned Small Business (“SDVOSB”), Economically Disadvantaged Women-Owned Small Business (“EDWOSB”), or Women-Owned Small Business (“WOSB”). Finally, the proposed rule also includes several other revisions, including changes to the requirements of the “nonmanufacturer rule,” updates to small business status following size determinations, and guidance on NAICS determinations.
Size Protests & Appeals. The new rule would increase the time (from 10 to 15 days) for the SBA to make a size determination of a protested business concern. It would also provide the contracting officer with the authority and discretion to authorize more time for the SBA to make its determination, and to award contracts, if necessary, when the SBA has not completed its determinations within 15 days. For appeals, the proposed rule clarifies that it is entirely within the discretion of the SBA’s Office of Hearing and Appeals (“OHA”) whether to hear an appeal of a size determination, and within the contracting officer’s discretion whether to suspend an award to a party whose size determination has been appealed. The proposed rule also allows for email delivery of written protests.