Why is Affiliation an Important Issue in federal government contracting? Awarded contracts are frequently taken away becuase your company no longer meets the small business legal definition. Your competitor will often initiate a small business size protest and claim that your relationship  with another business, usually a teaming partner or subcontractor, violates the affiliation and Ostensible Subcontractor Rule.

SBA determines whether an entity qualifies as a small business concern by SBA Affiliation - Business Affiliation Definition & SBA Meaning of Ostensiblecounting its receipts, employees, or another measure including those of all its domestic and foreign affiliates, regardless of whether the affiliates are organized for profit. 13 CFR 121.103(a)(6).

Many small companies have heard of the dangerous SBA affiliation meaning and ostensible definition decisions under SBA regulations. However, there is still some confusion as to its meaning. According to the SBA, business affiliation occurs when one business controls or has the ability to control another or when a third party (or parties) controls or has the power to control both businesses. Prime management and control of the project is the area that many businesses struggle with during size protest litigation.

Under the SBA’s affiliation definition, affiliation cues of control may arise through ownership, management, or other relationships or interactions between the parties.

Control may be affirmative or negative: The SBA analyzes negative control by looking at situations where for example a minority shareholder has the ability, under the concern’s charter, by-laws, or shareholder’s agreement, to prevent a quorum or otherwise block action by the board of directors or shareholders. SBA will consider the totality of the circumstances when determining whether affiliation exists and may find that a small business concern is ostensibly affiliated based on the totality of the circumstances even though no single factor alone may be sufficient to constitute affiliation.

Crunching the numbers: Once the SBA decides  that affiliation exists, then SBA will count the receipts, employees, or other measure of size for the concern whose size is at issue combined with the receipts, employees, or other measure of size for all of its domestic and foreign affiliates, regardless of whether the affiliates are organized for profit.

The ultimate reason for the SBA a small business firmed is determined to be ostensibly affiliated is to impute revenues or employees to the prime contractor in an effort the go over the required small business size standard allowances. Once this happens, then the contract is taken away.

SBA small business affiliation meaning and ostensible definition rules stem from 13 CFR 121.103.

However, there is a multitude of cases where SBA OHA has interpreted various facts to reach a legal decision about business affiliation meaning of a specific business concern. For example, Contractual relationships or economic dependency has become a hot topic in recent small business size protest litigation.

Given the reality that commercial business formations and investments take various forms, a small business that has various management roles in third-party companies, or ownership in other companies must be extremely careful not to fall prey to the brutal SBA’s business affiliation definition.

Ostensibly Affiliated? Small Business Affiliation New Rules

 Under the new affiliation rules, and in the case of a solicitation for a bundled contract, a small business contractor may enter into a Small Business Teaming Arrangement with one or more small business subcontractors and submit an offer as a small concern without regard to small business affiliation rules and being ostensibly affiliated, so long as each team member is small for the size standard assigned to the contract or subcontract

Under the new rules, the SBA has also relaxed your company’s ability to enter into teaming agreements and small business joint ventures without fear of affiliation. However, in situations where your company violates the limitations on subcontracting rule, a terrible result is still possible. Government contractors should make sure that their business relationships are above-board before the competition sets out to attack them in a small business size protest.

Prime Management – Affiliate Important Definition

Business affiliation definition  – Small Business Affiliation with another business concern is based on the power to control, whether exercised or not. Such factors as common ownership, common management, and identity of interest (often found in members of the same family), among others, are indicators of affiliation.

Power to control exists when a party or parties have 50 percent or more ownership. It may also exist with considerably less than 50 percent ownership by contractual arrangement or when one or more parties own a large share compared to other parties. Affiliated business concerns need not be in the same line of business. The calculation of a concern’s size includes the employees or receipts of all affiliates.

  • Awardees must prove prime management of the project from the onset.
  • Failure to do would increase the chances of losing the bid protest.

What does ostensible mean?

SBA Ostensible Definition and Meaning: The “ostensible subcontractor” rule provides that when a subcontractor is actually
performing the primary and vital requirements of the contract, or when the prime contractor is unusually reliant upon the subcontractor, the two firms are affiliated for purposes of the procurement at issue. 13 CFR 121.103(h)(4).

The intent of Ostensible Subcontractor Rule: Under SBA affiliation regulations, meeting the SBA ostensible meaning can cause pain for a government contractor that finally receives a contract after hard work and using resources to get the result.

What does ostensible mean also includes knowing that it is defined to prevent other than small firm (large businesses) from forming relationships with small firms to evade SBA’s size requirements. Size Appeal of Fischer Business Solutions, LLC, SBA No. SIZ-5075. When investigating business relationships between the prime contractors and the subcontractor’s ostensible agency, the SBA will examine all aspects of the business relationship including the terms of the proposal and any agreements between the firms to see whether the relationship between a prime contractor and a subcontractor violates the ostensible subcontractor rule.

Despite the SBA’s new rules that minimize the possibility of business affiliation definition between ostensible subcontractors and prime contractors, the crust of the SBA’s size protest investigation looks to see whether the subcontractor is performing the primary and vital contract requirements are those associated with the principal purpose of the acquisition. 

For additional help or representation in an ongoing size protest case about the SBA affiliation meaning, and the ostensible definition and meaning, call Watson & Associates, LLC attorneys at 1-866-601-5518 for a Free Initial Consultation.

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