On December 29, 2009, the Department of Defense (DoD) announced a new 8(a) Partnership Agreement (“Agreement”) with the Small Business Administration (SBA), altering the award process used in previous partnership agreements. Under the terms of the new Agreement, the SBA will no longer review the 8(a) eligibility of all offerors that are within the competitive range. Instead, the SBA will review eligibility of offerors sequentially, beginning with the likely successful offeror, as determined by DoD. This new Agreement is valid through September 30, 2012.
Pursuant to the Agreement, the DoD contracting officer is first directed to rank the offerors in the competitive range, prior to requesting approval from the SBA as to the offeror’s 8(a) eligibility. Once the offerors are ranked, the contracting officer must request an 8(a) eligibility determination of the most likely successful offeror. If the SBA determines that the proposed offeror does not meet the 8(a) program participant requirements, the Agreement states that the SBA is to review the second offeror for eligibility. If this offeror also fails to meet the SBA’s eligibility standards, the SBA is directed to review the third offeror for eligibility, and so on. Importantly, the DoD contracting officer may award a contract to an 8(a) program participant only if the officer has received the SBA’s approval of the eligibility of the proposed offeror.
The procedural changes introduced in the new Agreement are intended to eliminate unnecessary administrative reviews in the award process. Despite these changes, the Agreement retains many elements of the previous procedures. For example, DoD contracting officers are still permitted to award contracts directly to 8(a) participants. Also, as in the previous partnership agreements, the SBA will remain the prime contractor on all 8(a) awards, modifications, options and purchase orders.
A copy of the new 8(a) Partnership Agreement between the DoD and SBA is available on-line at http://www.acq.osd.mil/dpap/policy/policyvault/USA007271-09-DPAP.pdf. please contact Tim Connelly at 612-236-0160 for more information.