SBA COC Certificate of Competency & Contractor Responsibility 13 CFR 125When challenging the contracting officer’s decision to refer your proposal to for an SBA Certificate of Competency COC under 13 CFR 125 or FAR 19.6, there are several nuances that companies should understand when filing a GAO bid protest.

Increase the effectiveness of your bid protest approach: Companies that challenge the Agency’s decision to issue a negative contractor responsibility determination fail in a majority of situations.  When the contracting offer sends the certificate of competency request to the SBA, the road becomes even more difficult.  

Your failure to understand the legal and factual basis for challenging the contracting officer’s negative responsibility determination will almost certainly get an unfavorable result. When considering certificate of competency requirements, companies should understand the difference between proposal responsiveness and contractor responsibility; Be able to show that you met the stated solicitation criteria and you can increase your chances of prevailing.

At Watson & Associates’ LLC, our GAO protest lawyers not only understand what can go wrong, we know how to do properly address the Agency’s actions or lack thereof. Delivering the best possible results your business can depend and grow on it.

Bid Protest Litigation Under 13 CFR 125.5 or FAR 19.6 For SBA COC Decisions Has a 90% Failure Rate! WHY…

They fail to articulate the right legal arguments. They fail to attract focus on the agency evaluation as compared to the solicitation. They fail to show that the ultimate SBA decision violates the SBA’s own regulations. Get the facts:

  • Incorrect legal approach: GAO gets hundreds of protests each year.
  • Solicitation requirements: 93% of cases for SBA COC referrals never address the actual evaluation criteria and the Agency’s evaluation.
  • Contractor responsibility versus proposal responsiveness: 65% of contractors are not well versed on the differences. This is a 
  • SBA COC authority: 74% of bid protests are based in facts after the SBA gets the COC referral. Of the 74%, 90% fail because the SBA has full authority to make certificate of competency determines. There are but slim chances to get them reversed although possible.

At Watson & Associates, LLC,  our bid protest lawyers represent government contractors who have concerns about the referral for an SBA COC determination due to contractor responsibility determination decisions. We understand the sometimes agencies may think that once the issue is referred to the SBA for a Certificate of Competency decision, that the requirement to comply with procurement law is now shifted to the SBA under 13 CFR 125. This is not always the case.

After the contracting officer and source selection evaluation has concerns with your ability to perform the contract the contracting agency should first determine whether the issue falls within the purview of a contractor responsibility concern that requires an SBA Certificate of Competency COC determination.

Common Agency Mistakes in Making  Responsibility Determination Decision & SBA COC Referrals Under FAR 19.6

Agencies don’t always comply with certificate of competency requirements: Federal government agencies sometimes make decisions that do not comply with the congressional intent of the COC regulations. See FAR 19.6. For example,  when analyzing determining contractor responsibility and certificates of competency, the contracting officer may sometimes mistake what is a true proposal defect for a contractor responsibility concern. By doing so, he or she can justify its outcome by just sending the Certificate of Competency request to the SBA. See Manus Medical, LLC.

Protesting SBA COC decisions can be very difficult since the SBA has very broad authority to make contractor responsibility  determination decisions. In order to succeed, contractors would have to start at the beginning of the proposal submission phase. 

For example, some government contracting agencies may mistake a bid responsiveness issue as contract responsibility issue.  Federal appeals courts have decided that agencies cannot send a refer a proposal for an SBA Certificate of Competency directly to cure a proposal defect. These are issues that our GAO contract protest lawyers can address on your behalf.

Focusing on the right phase of Agency action is critical: For technical responsibility determination concerns for small businesses,  the Contracting Officer MUST refer the matter for a Certificate of Competency decision. However, the important issue for contractors seeking to litigate the matter in a bid protest or appeal, the answer usually lies at the initial evaluation phase. Courts generally will not question the agencies decision as to whether there is a true responsibility issue unless there is clear error.

Basics About 13 CFR 125.5 SBA Certificate of Competency COC Protests

  • SBA has sole legal authority for Certificate of Competency decisions.
  • To bring a GAO protest case, you also have to look at bad faith on the agency’s actions.
  • There are narrow exceptions to when GAO can review SBA COC bid protests.
  • The U.S. Court of Federal Claims can decide bid protest cases about SBA COC determinations

We resolve legal disputes regarding 13 CFR 125.5 and the various disputes related to FAR Certificate of Competency issues.

Call Our SBA Certificate of Competency COC Protest Lawyers for Immediate Help

For help filing a bid protest or overturning an SBA certificate of competency decision under FAR 19.6 or 13 CFR 125.5, please call our government contract law attorneys at 1-866-601-5518 for a FREE INITIAL CONSULTATION.