As each one of us now serves as a foot soldier in the war against COVID-19, we at Ferlise and Associates want to encourage all our friends and readers to stay informed and follow the health and safety guidelines so that we may defeat this common enemy as quickly as possible. While we all transition to a new way of doing business, we want you to know that we have at your disposal decades of experience in Federal Government contracting and are always available to answer your questions.

Stay well!

Your friends at Ferlise and Associates.

Small Business Just Got a Little Bigger…Maybe

Effective January 6, 2020, a small business may use a 5-year lookback to calculate its revenue for a “receipts-based” NAICS code. However, if a 3-year lookback is more beneficial, it may use that instead…at least until January 6, 2022. After this two-year transition period, all small businesses will use the 5-year lookback period.

SBA to examine disconnect between Joint Ventures and Agency Facility Security Requirments

SBA is finally looking into the disconnect between its Joint Venture (JV) rules and Agency Facility Security Clearance requirements. Many of you may have run into this problem. Your JV is is the “prime offeror” and the agency’s solicitation requires the prime to have a facility security clearance. Your JV (being a separate legal entity) is “unpopulated” and cannot qualify for a facility security clearance since the clearance is dependent upon the personnel who will be monitoring/administering the security requirements. Technically, you fail to meet the solicitation requirement and a decision by GAO (ProTech Services USA, LLC , File: B-417484, Date: July 19, 2019) agreed with the agency on this point. (The decision involved SBA because the protester claimed that the determination was one of “responsibility” rather than a material requirement of the solicitation.) However, each of the members that make up the JV do have facility security clearances. To remedy this problem, SBA has asked for comments on how best to remedy this problem in its proposed rule regarding merging the 8(a) and All Small Mentor Protégé Programs ( The SBA recommends that either the JV itself or the “lead” venturer could hold the required clearance. If you are a small business “protégé” in the SBA’s Mentor-Protégé Program, this may not be much help since you are the lead venture and may not have the required clearance. However, the SBA added that if “security” is ancillary to the principal purpose of the procurement, the non-lead partner, e.g. the Mentor, could possess such a clearance and satisfy the requirement. If you want to weigh in on this issue with SBA, you have until January 17, 2020. For any questions on Joint Ventures or Mentor-Protégé Programs, please give us a call at 732-380-7739.

Former CECOM Attorney Joins F&A

We are very pleased to announce that Susan Harbort has joined our team!

Prior to joining Ferlise and Associates, Susan was a Department of the Army civilian attorney for 30 years. Susan has significant experience in all aspects of the source selection process, protests before the Government Accountability Office and Court of Federal Claims, as well as Agency level protests, contract claims and appeals, and contract administration issues.  Susan most recently served as a Business Law Division Chief, serving as the senior legal advisor to PEO IEW&S and CECOM ILSC.

Welcome aboard Susan!

WOSB/EDWOSB proposed rule

On May 14th, the SBA published a Proposed Rule to amend its regulations to require Woman-Owned Small Businesses (WOSBs) and Economically-Disadvantaged Woman-Owned Small Businesses (EDWOSBs) to be certified by either SBA, other Federal Agencies, a State government, or a national certifying entity approved by SBA in order to be awarded a set-aside or a sole-source contract.  Currently, WOSBs/EDWOSBs are permitted to self-certify and can continue to self-certify for contract awards that are not set-aside or sole-source.

The text of the proposed rule can be found at with comments due by July 15, 2019. 

If you have any questions about this program, please contact us at or (732) 380-7739.

Two F&A Associates Join the CECOM Hall of Fame

Mark Sagan and Dave Sharman were elected to the Communications-Electronics Command (CECOM) Hall of Fame, and will be inducted at a ceremony at Aberdeen Proving Grounds on May 1st. They join F&A founder Victor Ferlise in the Hall of Fame, who was part of the inaugural class of inductees.

Mark was a central player in the Army Legal Community for 32 years, culminating in his service as CECOM Chief Counsel. During his tenure, Mark was recognized as the “go to” attorney within the Department of Army and was frequently hand-picked to participate in the most complex and politically sensitive matters where his expertise and counsel were relied upon with absolute confidence by DA and DoD senior leaders in connection with the Army’s most critical, complex, and controversial multi-billion dollar programs. Mark’s work was a key component in the Army’s ability to successfully field systems that vastly improved warfighter survivability, as recognized by his selection to the Hall.

Following his service as a Marine, Dave served 31 years as an Army logistician, finishing as Director of the CECOM Logistics and Readiness Center (LRC). As the Command’s senior leader for logistics, he was responsible for not only the management of over 2000 military and civilian employees, but also the creation of the vision, strategy and implementation plans necessary to achieve an integrated enterprise approach to logistics sustainment for all the Army’s Command, Control, Communications, Computers, Intelligence, Surveillance and Reconnaissance (C4ISR) weapon systems. David’s achievements during his various positions in the LRC were outstanding and have made a lasting impact on CECOM in the areas of national inventory control point, national maintenance point, security assistance to allied nations, production and industrial base management and planning, integrated logistics planning, and field technical assistance with a global footprint encompassing over 20 countries and 100 plus sites.

Congratulations Mark and David!

Time to say goodbye to GSA’s SBA Mentor-Protégé Program

Effective April 3, 2019, GSA is removing its SBA Mentor-Protégé Program regulations because of duplication with the SBA’s Government-wide Mentor-Protégé Program.  The SBA’s program became effective on August 24, 2016 and has gained popularity as Agency Contracting Officers have become more familiar with the benefits of that program.  If you would like more information on the background, requirements, and benefits of a Mentor-Protégé arrangement, please contact us to discuss. t 6;\lsdpri

Small Business goals causing big confusion

There is a lot of confusion about Small Business goals that we usually see in Requests for Proposals (RFPs) along with requirements to submit Small Business Subcontracting Plans (SBSPs) and/or Small Business Participation Plans (SBPPs). Hopefully, we can shed a little light on the subject.

Since Small Businesses are credited with most of the technical innovations and job creation in the US, the federal Government has a significant interest in seeing that the small business community remains robust.  One of the ways to help company growth and stability is through profitable federal contracting opportunities.  To this end, the Government established the Small Business Administration (SBA) through enactment of the Small Business Act of 1953.  One of the SBA’s goals is to make sure that Small Businesses win a “fair proportion” of federal contracts. That’s why the Government established prime contracting and subcontracting goals.

Congress has established the following prime contracting goal – 23% of all federal contracts should be awarded to Small Businesses.  Further, Congress established the following socioeconomic goals: Small Disadvantaged Businesses (SDBs) – 5%; Woman-Owned Small Businesses (WOSBs) – 5%; Service-Disabled Veteran-Owned Small Businesses (SDVOSBs) – 3%; and Historically Underutilized Business Zone (HUBZone) Small Businesses – 3%. Note that the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) also has a mandate to track award to Veteran Owned Small Businesses (VOSBs) because of their unique position, but awards to VOSBs are not usually tracked outside the VA.

While these are goals for federal contracts overall, the SBA also negotiates “Agency-wide” goals with each federal Department or Agency each year which may account for some of the different figures you see.  For example, for FY 2017, the VA had an overall Small Business prime contracting goal of 28.5% and they exceeded that goal by awarding 29.72% to Small Businesses.  They also had an overall Small Business subcontracting goal of 17% which they missed slightly by achieving only 16.60%. (You can see all the Agency goals and achievements for FY 2017 on the SBA website at–small-business-procurement-scorecard-overview .)

The Agency goals may be higher or lower than the national goals.  In addition, the Agency can set goals for each procurement higher than those negotiated with SBA.  However, the sum total of all the Agencies’ goals must meet the goals for the federal Government by statute (i.e., 23%, 5% or 3% depending on socioeconomic category).

Since the Government also tracks the percentage of subcontracts as well as Prime contracts, there is a mandatory requirement that Large Business contractors who win federal contracts over the simplified acquisition threshold must give the “maximum practicable opportunity to participate in contract performance” to SDVOSBs, WOSBs, SDBs, HUBZones, and other Small Businesses that don’t fall into one of those categories.  If the contract is expected to exceed $700,000 (or $1.5M for construction), the Prime must create a SBSP that meets specific detailed requirements.

For some acquisitions (particularly those from Department of Defense), you may have also seen a requirement to create a SBPP.  This participation plan is different from the SBSP in a number of ways and when required, must be submitted by both Large and Small Businesses (unlike the SBSP which is only required from Large Businesses).

The title of the plan is the key to the distinction between the two documents – an SBPP credits the Small Business Prime’s “participation” in achieving the goals and does not mandate any subcontracting (if the goals can be met by the Small Business Prime alone).  The SBSP is limited to Large Businesses who must subcontract to meet Small Business goals.  SBPPs take various forms and do not conform to the specific requirements that the SBSP does

There are numerous nuances to this subject which can’t be covered in this short space, but the “bottom line” is that there are serious consequences to not achieving your Small Business goals so you need to ensure that your plans are constructed properly and reasonably.  If you need help with understanding the Small Business program goals and documents, we may be able to help.

Enhanced Postaward Debriefing Rights

On March 22, 2018, the Department of Defense (DoD) published a Memorandum entitled “Enhanced Postaward Debriefing Rights.” This was issued to implement paragraphs (b) and (c) of Section 818 of the National Defense Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2018 which amended 10 USC 2305(b)(5) and 31 USC 3553 (d)(4).

This memo requires the DoD to include more information in the debriefings than currently given. Specifically, the Government must provide a redacted copy of the Source Selection Decision Document and give the unsuccessful offeror an opportunity to submit additional questions within 2 days after the debriefing. The debriefing won’t be considered concluded until those questions are answered in writing, and they must be answered within 5 days. This provision is applicable to small business awards between $10 Million and $100 Million or for any contract (regardless of size of the business) valued over $100 million.

The memo also warned DoD agencies that it must suspend contract performance upon receipt of a GAO protest: within 10 days after the date of award, or 5 days after the debriefing if no additional questions are posed, or 5 days after the written answers are delivered if additional questions are asked – whichever is later.

For help crafting debriefing questions or a discussion about whether or not to protest, please feel free to contact us.