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Changes to the SBA’s Mentor Protégé Program

The Small Business Association’s (SBA) Mentor Protégé Program has been widely used as joint ventures (JV) in government contracting become more prevalent. For anyone not familiar, the program uses approved large businesses as mentors to assist smaller protégé businesses with business development (BD) efforts for federal contracts. This allows the mentor to create a JV with the protégé allowing the protégé to compete for small-business set-aside contracts with the benefit of having the large business to assist them. In addition, the protégé benefits from the mentor’s past performance and qualifications, so it is a mutually beneficial relationship.

The program used to be reserved for 8(a) companies, however now all small businesses can now participate by leveraging the SBA’s All Small Mentor Protégé Program. The All-Small Mentor Protégé Program was consolidated with the 8(a) Mentor Protégé Program by the SBA in November of 2020 to reduce confusion. There were also a number of rules that were changed.

Significant changes were that the SBA no longer needs prior approval of a mentor protégé JV for competitive acquisitions. Previously JVs were limited to being awarded 3 contracts in a 2-year period, however now the JVs can win as many contracts as it can within the 2-year period, so long as the proposal is sent to a contracting officer (KO) within this timeframe.

Another change to be aware of is the requirement that small business must now re-certify its size when it submits a proposal on a set-aside task order issued under an unrestricted multiple award contract (MAC). A notable exception are task orders issued under GSA Federal Supply Schedule. What this means is, if you qualified as a small business for the MAC, you would have to re-qualify yourself for each task order in the MAC. Given that MACs can be 5 to 10 years, a small business will potentially grow in that period to a point where it is no longer qualified.

For businesses looking to find an ideal JV partner, you can leverage the EZGovOpps company search to include a number of qualifying criteria. Try it today with a 5-day trial.

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