As we were reviewing the regulatory agendas of various federal agencies for upcoming regulations that might impact federal contractors, we noticed that the U.S. Small Business Administration’s (“SBA”) most recent regulatory agenda included an upcoming proposed regulation entitled “Consolidation of Mentor Protégé Programs and Other Government Contracting Amendments.” Specifically, SBA’s regulatory agenda states that:
SBA proposes to consolidate the All Small Mentor Protégé Program and the 8(a) Business Development Mentor Protégé Program into one program. This rule will also make other revisions in the Government Contracting programs, including the process for approving management changes in entity owned concerns.
According to SBA’s regulatory agenda, this proposed rule was estimated for release in March 2018. While that obviously did not happen, it is not uncommon for SBA (or other agencies) to issue proposed regulations months (or even years) after originally estimated.
For an 8(a) contractor, there is little (or arguably no) benefit to applying to the 8(a) Mentor-Protege Program (8(a) MPP) instead of the All-Small Mentor-Protege Program (ASMPP), and SBA reviews and approves mentor-protege agreements at a much faster rate if one applies to the ASMPP. While the ASMPP has been around for over a year now, many 8(a) contractors are still under the misconception that they need to be in the 8(a) MPP in order to bid as a joint venture on 8(a) set-asides. This is simply not the case, as the ASMPP provides the same advantages to an 8(a) protege as the 8(a) MPP. Consolidation of these two program should streamline the mentor-protege approval process, and result in the elimination of duplicative and confusing regulations. We eagerly anticipate the issuance of this proposed regulation to consolidate SBA’s two mentor-protege programs, and hopefully SBA will at the same time address some of the other problems with the mentor-protege regulations (such as eliminating the requirement for SBA to approve a joint venture agreement before award of an 8(a) contract).