As part of the SBA’s 8(a) Business Development Program, participants are permitted to form mentor-protégé relationships and to establish joint venture (JV) entities eligible for award of 8(a) set aside contracts. Before a mentor-protégé JV can be eligible for set-aside awards, its JV Agreement has to be approved by the SBA Office of Business Development. Approval is conditioned upon compliance with applicable regulations, including 13 C.F.R. § 124.513. After award of a set-aside contract, other offerors have the option of filing a size protest with the SBA challenging the awardee’s status as small.
In Size Appeal of Trident, LLC, SBA No. SIZ-5315 (Jan. 24, 2012) [pdf], the SBA Office of Hearings and Appeals (OHA) held that an SBA area office has no authority to review the substance of an 8(a) mentor-protégé JV agreement as part of a size appeal if it has already been approved by the SBA Office of Business Development and determined to be in compliance with applicable regulations. In that case, Trident appealed the area office’s determination that it was “other than small” and accordingly ineligible for award of an 8(a) set-aside for weather observation and forecasting services.