Ready or not . . . here it comes. Is your small business ready for the challenge of the SBA’s proposed expansion of the Mentor-Protege Program?
The Mentor-Protégé Program – currently reserved only for 8(a) Program members – is on the verge of some very big changes. Changes that will alter the way we look at small business set-aside procurements in the Federal marketplace. The SBA’s new proposed rules will expand the shield against joint venture affiliation to all small business concerns that team with a large mentor – including firms in the HubZone, Women-Owned Small Business, and Service-Disabled Veteran Owned Small Business programs. Importantly, these newly created large-small teams would also be able to chase set-aside work as a small business.
The proposed rules took another step forward this week, as the SBA’s Associate Administrator of Government Contracting and Business Development testified before the House’s Small Business Subcommittee on Contracting and the Workforce.
Among the topics discussed at the hearing was the SBA’s ability to cope financially with the expected influx of mentor-protégé applications after the expansion becomes official. As we suggested when the proposed rules were first announced, the large number of new mentor-protégé teams could box out small businesses that elect to go it alone. The implications for small business set-aside work are huge. Small businesses need to start preparing for this new reality now.
The SBA estimates the final rule will be issued in the first quarter of fiscal year 2016 and expects to launch a pilot program in late summer 2016.