Mentor-Protégé Program

Recent decisions by the Small Business Administration (“SBA”) Office of Hearings and Appeals (“OHA”) and the Court of Federal Claims offer important advice to anyone in the process of drafting and negotiating a mentor/protégé joint venture agreement:  Be specific.  Those agreements, in many cases, are the crown jewel of the mentor-protégé program enabling mentors and protégés to work together on set-aside opportunities that they would not otherwise have been eligible.  And like anything of great value, it should not be taken for granted.  Instead, as a matter of meeting both regulatory requirements and best practice, mentor/protégé joint venture agreements should specifically list all resources, equipment and facilities (and their estimated values) that each party will provide and detail how work will be shared between the joint venture members.
Continue Reading OHA and COFC Agree: Mentor/Protégé JV Agreements Must Be Specific to Avoid Affiliation

Last week, the U.S. Small Business Administration (“SBA”) published a proposed rule that if implemented will increase the opportunity for large and small businesses to partner on unrestricted competitions and small business set asides by creating a comprehensive Mentor-Protégé Program that will allow any type of small business contractor to partner with another company without risking the contractor’s small business status.  The new comprehensive Program is modeled on the current 8(a) Mentor-Protégé Program, which will remain in effect but be modified under the proposed rule to create more opportunities for contracting with small disadvantaged businesses.  The proposed rule comes shortly after another proposal from the SBA that—among other sweeping changes—will create new opportunities for partnerships between similarly situated small businesses, such as allowing joint ventures to qualify as small so long as each individual partner qualifies as small.

The proposed rule implements provisions of the Small Business Jobs Act of 2010 and National Defense Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2013, which together authorized the SBA to expand the current 8(a) Mentor-Protégé Program to all small businesses, including HUBZone, women-owned, and service-disabled, veteran-owned small businesses, as well as small businesses that do not qualify for a particular socioeconomic subcategory.  The SBA estimates that approximately 2,000 small businesses could participate in the new comprehensive Program, resulting in contracts valued at approximately $2 billion per year.  In addition to creating opportunities for large and small businesses to partner on small business set asides, the comprehensive Program will likely benefit both large and small businesses in unrestricted competitions.  If implemented, small businesses could compete for larger awards and large businesses could take advantage of price evaluation preferences when partnering with HUBZone small businesses and potentially derive other benefits currently offered to large businesses that subcontract with protégé firms, such as receiving evaluation preferences or additional credit toward obtaining small business subcontracting goals.Continue Reading SBA Proposes Comprehensive Small Business Mentor-Protégé Program