As many of you already know, back in February 2015, the SBA issued its long-awaited proposed rule aimed at expanding its mentor-protégé program. The proposed regulations implement changes introduced by the Jobs Act of 2010 and the National Defense Authorization Act of 2013, and would permit firms, other than those that are 8(a) Certified, to participate in the mentor-protégé program. Moreover, if the proposed rule becomes final, all of the companies participating in the revamped program will be able to take advantage of the exclusion from affiliation. While this was great news for many at the time, it has been almost nine months since this rule was issued and there has been no sign of any further action by the SBA. Many of our clients have been asking when the SBA is actually going to put these changes into effect. Well, it seems like we might finally have an answer.
The Committee on Small Business Subcommittee on Contracting and the Workforce, chaired by U.S. Representative Richard Hanna, began to express concern about the delay in implementing the new mentor-protégé programs and decided to investigate. A Subcommittee hearing was held on October 27, 2015. At the hearing, which was called “Maximizing Mentoring: How are the SBA and DoD Mentor-Protégé Programs Serving Small Businesses?”, numerous individuals from the SBA testified about the agency’s progress on the expanded mentor-protégé program, and the challenges the agency has faced in getting these programs up and running. Most importantly, these individuals also indicated that the final rule will be issued in the first quarter of fiscal year 2016, and that the agency hopes to launch a pilot program sometime in the summer of 2016. You can watch the full hearing here. We will keep you posted on any further developments.
Edward T. DeLisle is Co-Chair of the Federal Contracting Practice Group. Ed frequently advises contractors on federal contracting matters including bid protests, claims and appeals, procurement issues, small business issues and dispute resolution.
Maria L. Panichelli is an Associate in the firm’s Federal Contracting Practice Group. Her practice includes a wide variety of federal contracting and construction matters, as well as all aspects of small business procurement.