19.306 Protesting a firm’s status as a HUBZone small business concern.

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19.306 Protesting a firm’s status as a HUBZone small business concern.

19.306 Protesting a firm’s status as a HUBZone small business concern.

  1. (a) Definition. As used in this section-

    “Interested party” has the meaning given in 13 CFR 126.103.

  2. (b)

    1. (1) An offeror that is an interested party, the contracting officer, or the SBA may protest the apparently successful offeror’s status as a qualified historically underutilized business zone (HUBZone) small business concern (see 13 CFR 126.800).

    2. (2) SBA’s protest regulations are found in subpart H “Protests” at 13 CFR 126.800 through 126.805.

  3. (c) Protests relating to small business size status are subject to the procedures of 19.302. An interested party seeking to protest both the small business size and HUBZone status of an apparent successful offeror shall file two separate protests. Protests relating to small business size status for the acquisition and the HUBZone qualifying requirements will be processed concurrently by SBA.

  4. (d) All protests must be in writing and must state all specific grounds for the protest.

    1. (1) SBA will consider protests challenging the status of a concern if the protest presents evidence that-

      1. (i) The concern is not a qualified HUBZone small business concern as described at 13 CFR 126.103 and 13 CFR 126.200;

      2. (ii) The principal office is not located in a HUBZone; or

      3. (iii) At least 35 percent of the employees do not reside in a HUBZone.

    2. (2) Assertions that a protested concern is not a qualified HUBZone small business concern, without setting forth specific facts or allegations, will not be considered by SBA (see 13 CFR 126.801(b)).

  5. (e) Protest by an interested party.

    1. (1) An interested party shall submit its protest to the contracting officer-

      1. (i) For sealed bids-

        1. (A) By the close of business on the fifth business day after bid opening; or

        2. (B) By the close of business on the fifth business day from the date of identification of the apparent successful offeror, if the price evaluation preference was not applied at the time of bid opening; or

      2. (ii) For negotiated acquisitions, by the close of business on the fifth business day after notification by the contracting officer of the apparently successful offeror.

    2. (2) Any protest received after the designated time limits is untimely, unless it is from the contracting officer or SBA.

  6. (f)

    1. (1) The contracting officer shall forward all protests to SBA. The protests are to be submitted to the Director, HUBZone Program, U.S. Small Business Administration, 409 Third Street, SW, Washington, DC 20416 or by fax to 202-205-7167, Attn: HUBZone Small Business Status Protest.

    2. (2) The protest shall include a referral letter written by the contracting officer with information pertaining to the solicitation. The referral letter must include the following information to allow SBA to determine timeliness and standing:

      1. (i) The solicitation number (or an electronic link to or a paper copy of the solicitation).

      2. (ii) The name, address, telephone number, fax number, and email address, of the contracting officer.

      3. (iii) The type of HUBZone contract.

      4. (iv) Whether the procurement was conducted using full and open competition with a HUBZone price evaluation preference, and whether the protester’s opportunity for award was affected by the preference.

      5. (v) If a HUBZone set-aside, whether the protester submitted an offer.

      6. (vi) Whether the protested concern was the apparent successful offeror.

      7. (vii) Whether the procurement was conducted using sealed bid or negotiated procedures.

      8. (viii) The bid opening date, if applicable. If a price evaluation preference was applied after the bid opening date, also provide the date of identification of the apparent successful offeror.

      9. (ix) The date the contracting officer received the protest.

      10. (x) Whether a contract has been awarded.

  7. (g) SBA will notify the protester and the contracting officer of the date SBA received the protest.

  8. (h) Before SBA decision.

    1. (1) After receiving a protest involving the apparent successful offeror’s status as a HUBZone small business concern, the contracting officer shall either-

      1. (i) Withhold award of the contract until SBA determines the status of the protested concern; or

      2. (ii) Award the contract after receipt of the protest but before SBA issues its decision if the contracting officer determines in writing that an award must be made to protect the public interest.

    2. (2) SBA will determine the merits of the status protest within 15 business days after receipt of a protest, or within any extension of time granted by the contracting officer.

    3. (3) If SBA does not issue its determination within 15 business days, or within any extension of time granted, the contracting officer may award the contract after determining in writing that there is an immediate need to award the contract and that waiting until SBA makes its determination will be disadvantageous to the Government. This determination shall be provided to the SBA’s HUBZone Program Director.

  9. (i) After SBA decision. The HUBZone Program Director will notify the contracting officer, the protester, and the protested concern of the SBA determination. The determination is effective immediately and is final unless overturned on appeal by SBA’s Associate Administrator, Office of Government Contracting and Business Development (AA/GCBD).

    1. (1) If the contracting officer has withheld contract award and SBA has determined that the protested concern is an eligible HUBZone or dismissed all protests against the protested concern, the contracting officer may award the contract to the protested concern. If AA/GCBD subsequently overturns the decision of the HUBZone Program Director, the contracting officer may apply the AA/GCBD decision to the procurement in question.

    2. (2) If the contracting officer has withheld award and the HUBZone Program Director has determined that the protested concern is ineligible, and a timely AA/GCBD appeal has not been filed, then the contracting officer shall not award the contract to the protested concern.

    3. (3) If the contracting officer has made a written determination in accordance with (h)(1)(ii) or (h)(3) of this section, awarded the contract, and the HUBZone Program Director’s ruling sustaining the protest is received after award-

      1. (i) The contracting officer shall terminate the contract, unless the contracting officer has made a written determination that termination is not in the best interests of the Government. However, the contracting officer shall not exercise any options or award further task or delivery orders under the contract;

      2. (ii) The contracting officer shall update the Federal Procurement Data System to reflect the final decision of the HUBZone Program Director if no appeal is filed; and

      3. (iii) The concern’s designation as a certified HUBZone small business concern will be removed by SBA from the Dynamic Small Business Database. The concern shall not submit an offer as a HUBZone small business concern, until SBA issues a decision that the ineligibility is resolved.

    4. (4) If the contracting officer has made a written determination in accordance with (h)(1)(ii) or (h)(3) of this section, awarded the contract, SBA has sustained the protest and determined that the concern is not a HUBZone small business, and a timely AA/GCBD appeal has been filed, then the contracting officer shall consider whether performance can be suspended until an AA/GCBD decision is rendered.

    5. (5) If AA/GCBD affirms the decision of the HUBZone Program Director, finding the protested concern is ineligible, and contract award has occurred-

      1. (i) The contracting officer shall terminate the contract, unless the contracting officer has made a written determination that termination is not in the best interest of the Government. However, the contracting officer shall not exercise any options or award further task or delivery orders.

      2. (ii) The contracting officer shall update the FPDS to reflect the AA/GCBD decision; and

      3. (iii) The SBA will remove the concern’s designation as a certified HUBZone small business concern. The concern shall not submit an offer as a HUBZone small business concern until SBA issues a decision that the ineligibility is resolved or AA/GCBD finds the concern is eligible on appeal.

    6. (6) A concern found to be ineligible during a HUBZone status protest is precluded from applying for HUBZone certification for 90 calendar days from the date of the SBA final decision.

  10. (j) Appeals of HUBZone status determinations. The protested HUBZone small business concern, the protester, or the contracting officer may file appeals of protest determinations with SBA’s AA/GC&BD. The AA/GC&BD must receive the appeal no later than 5 business days after the date of receipt of the protest determination. SBA will dismiss any untimely appeal.

  11. (k) The appeal must be in writing. The appeal must identify the protest determination being appealed and must set forth a full and specific statement as to why the decision is erroneous or what significant fact the HUBZone Program Director failed to consider.

  12. (l)

    1. (1) The party appealing the decision must provide notice of the appeal to-

      1. (i) The contracting officer;

      2. (ii) HUBZone Program Director, U.S. Small Business Administration, 409 Third Street, SW., Washington, DC 20416 or by fax to 202-205-7167; and

      3. (iii) The protested HUBZone small business concern or the original protester, as appropriate.

    2. (2) SBA will not consider additional information or changed circumstances that were not disclosed at the time of the Director/HUB’s decision or that are based on disagreement with the findings and conclusions contained in the determination.

  13. (m) The AA/GCBD will make its decision within 5 business days of the receipt of the appeal, if practicable, and will base its decision only on the information and documentation in the protest record as supplemented by the appeal. SBA will provide a copy of the decision to the contracting officer, the protester, and the protested HUBZone small business concern. The SBA decision, if received before award, will apply to the pending acquisition. The AA/GCBD’s decision is the final decision.

  14. (n) The AA/GC&BD will make its decision within 5 business days of the receipt of the appeal, if practicable, and will base its decision only on the information and documentation in the protest record as supplemented by the appeal. SBA will provide a copy of the decision to the contracting officer, the protester, and the protested HUBZone small business concern. The SBA decision, if received before award, will apply to the pending acquisition. SBA rulings received after award will not apply to that acquisition. The AA/GC&BD’s decision is the final decision.