Morris Manning & Martin, LLP

New SBA Rule May Cause Bidding Headaches for Government Contractors

11.30.2020

A new Small Business Administration regulation finalized this month aims to streamline contracting joint venture partnerships between small government contractors and larger businesses looking to mentor them. 

But one gray area in the agency’s new rule has at least one government contracting attorney concerned that it could lead to some thorny acquisition battles around security clearances. 

According to the rule, which was finalized Nov. 16, two SBA programs tasked with managing temporary partnerships between small businesses and larger contractors — the 8(a) Business Development Mentor-Protégé program and the All Small Mentor-Protégé Program — would be combined into one as part of the Trump administration’s broader initiative to reduce regulations.

Both programs are designed to help small businesses grow by allowing them to pair with a larger and more experienced contractor in a joint venture federal contract. But because the 8(a) Mentor-Protégé program has historically been more restrictive about which businesses are eligible, the changes seek to marry the incongruent parts of both programs.

Among those changes is a rule that would allow businesses that don't possess a security clearance to still bid for certain defense contracts under a joint venture, so long as its partner had a clearance and the small business wouldn't perform the specific work that required the clearance. It's aimed at small businesses that can participate in the unclassified portions of a contract. 

Michelle Litteken spoke to The Washington Business Journal about changes to the 8(a) Business Development Mentor-Protégé program and the All Small Mentor-Protégé Program and addressed underlying concerns and questions that remain. Read the full article here