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The Small Business Administration (SBA) has seemingly slipped a noteworthy change into a technical correction published in the Federal Register on March 26, 2018.  Indeed, this “technical correction” actually appears to be an attempt to overturn the impact of a decision that the Office of Hearing and Appeals (OHA) issued in January 2018 – In

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This week’s episode covers DFARS and SBA Mentor Protégé Program news and is hosted by partner Peter Eyre. Crowell & Moring’s “Fastest 5 Minutes” is a biweekly podcast that provides a brief summary of significant government contracts legal and regulatory developments that no government contracts lawyer or executive should be without.

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On July 25, 2016, the SBA published its final rule establishing a government-wide mentor-protégé program for the benefit of all small businesses as protégés.  This widely-anticipated rule, implementing provisions of the Small Business Jobs Act of 2010 and the National Defense Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2013, provides increased opportunity for small and large businesses to partner with one another.  Effective August 24, 2016, this new program is expected to unleash a flood of new mentor-protégé agreements (MPAs) as well as joint ventures eligible to compete on set-aside procurements, and it could likely result in an increase in the number of set-aside procurements.

Below we discuss the benefits from participating in this program, the requirements for the mentor-protégé agreement (“MPA”), the eligibility criteria for mentors and protégés, and the requirements for joint ventures established pursuant to the MPAs. Given the numerous benefits to participating in this program, including the opportunity to joint venture, the SBA has layered into this final rule the requirement for numerous express certifications of compliance and severe consequences for violation of the SBA’s regulations, MPAs, and/or joint venture agreements.  A separate blog post will address the changes that the SBA is implementing in the final rule to the SBA’s current regulations governing the 8(a) business development (BD) program.


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In this part of our ongoing series (see Part I, Part II and Part III) on the Small Business Government Contracting and National Defense Authorization Act of 2013 Amendments implementing the National Defense Authorization Act of 2013 (FY2013 NDAA) Amendments, we address the new recertification requirement that is triggered following the merger, sale, or acquisition of a firm that has submitted an offer as a small business concern (SBC).

A concern that represents itself as a small business and qualifies as small at the time of proposal submission is considered to be a small business throughout the life of that contract.  This even applies for Multiple Award Contracts—the SBC is considered small for each order issued against the contract with the same NAICS code and size standard (unless a contracting officer chooses to request a new size certification in connection with a particular order).  In other words, even where a concern grows to be other than small, the procuring agency may exercise options and still count the award as an award to a SBC, unless a recertification requirement has been triggered.

Given the great boon that comes to a firm upon award of a contract where it has qualified as a SBC, the SBA has long sought to set the right balance for what should happen when a small business is involved in a merger, sale, or acquisition. The concern is that if a SBC could submit a proposal with pricing, certify that it is small, and actually qualify on that date of proposal submission as small, should that small business be able to sell itself following proposal submission or contract award to a large business and allow the large business to benefit for up to five years of contract performance as a “small business”?  The SBA’s answer to that is no.  The SBA’s regulations as currently drafted require recertification in certain circumstances following a merger, sale, or acquisition but only once award has already been made.  In the final rule, SBA imposes new recertification requirements aimed at changes that occur within the window between proposal submission and contract award.


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As we have previously addressed, the Small Business Administration’s (SBA) final rule, Small Business Government Contracting and National Defense Authorization Act of 2013 Amendments, has implemented numerous changes to small business contracting contained in the National Defense Authorization Act of 2013 (FY2013 NDAA).  Below we discuss an important change to one affiliation test as well as newly introduced exclusions from affiliation.  On the whole, these changes make it easier for small businesses to work together without risking a finding of affiliation.

Affiliation is a central component of SBA’s regulations: in determining a concern’s size, SBA counts the receipts, employees, or other measure of size of the concern whose size is at issue and all of its affiliates (domestic and foreign).  In other words, these tests and (and exemptions or exclusions) affect whether SBA finds a concern to be small or other than small based on its relationships with other concerns.


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The Small Business Administration’s (SBA) final rule, Small Business Government Contracting and National Defense Authorization Act of 2013 Amendments, implements changes regarding small business subcontracting plans contained in the National Defense Authorization Act of 2013 (FY2013 NDAA).  We discuss the key changes below.  This rule becomes effective June 30, 2016, but as some of the changes impact the proposal process which can involve planning and team selection months in advance of proposal submission, contractors need to focus on the new requirements now.

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The goal of the limitation on subcontracting requirement is to ensure that a certain amount of work is performed by a small business concern (SBC) when it qualifies for a small business program set-aside or sole source procurement due to its socioeconomic program status. SBA’s final rule, Small Business Government Contracting and National Defense Authorization Act of 2013 Amendments, implements numerous changes to this requirement contained in the National Defense Authorization Act of 2013 (FY2013 NDAA).  This rule becomes effective June 30, 2016. However, changes to the parallel FAR requirements are still needed for regulatory consistency and implementation.

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Far too often, investors, including venture capital companies, assume that as long as they do not retain the largest shareholder interest in a company, that they cannot create affiliation problems impacting what is a key to companies’ initial success in government contracting: small business status. Wrong. A recent U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA) Office of Hearings and Appeals (OHA) decision makes this a stark reality, upholding a determination that an apparent awardee in a set-aside procurement is other-than-small based on affiliation arising from its mere 4.16 percent stock ownership interest in another company.

Affiliation Generally
If a contractor has ever thought about certifying its size as small under a particular NAICS code, hopefully they reviewed the SBA regulations on affiliation in advance. The analysis of whether a company is small in size does not start and end with the receipts or number of employees for that company, but is instead considered as a spiderweb of connections with other individuals and entities. In order to determine a concern’s size, SBA counts not only the receipts or employees of the concern but also the receipts or employees of each of the concern’s domestic and foreign affiliates.

Concerns and entities are affiliates of each other when one controls or even has the power to control the other, or a third party or parties controls or has the power to control both. 13 C.F.R. § 121.103(a). In determining affiliation, there are numerous factors that the SBA must consider – including, ownership, management, and previous relationships with or ties to other concerns. SBA’s analysis concerns the totality of the circumstances; the absence of any single factor will not be considered dispositive.

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On December 29, 2014, the Small Business Administration issued long overdue proposed amendments to its regulations (with 60 days for comments) to implement many of the provisions of the National Defense Authorization Act of 2013 relevant to small business contracting.

Most notable is the complete overhaul of the calculation of the limitations on subcontracting requirement. The amendment proposes a major shift in the way the calculation is performed. The current method requires the prime contractor to be responsible for the specified percentage of cost of performing the contract (with variations depending on whether it is a contract for services, supplies, construction, or specialty trade construction). The amendment proposes shifting the calculation from this cost-based approach to the amount paid to the prime, which must be more than the specified percentage paid to other than “similarly situated” subcontractors. The proposed revision is intended to be easier to calculate, but complexities remain.
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