A recent U.S. Government Accountability Office decision involving a Small Business Administration-approved small business joint venture, or JV, suggests that JVs between large and small firms should adjust their proposal strategies to avoid downgrades on past performance when the small business JV member, and the JV itself, lack relevant past performance.
Proposing on a set-aside contract as an SBA-approved JV between a small and large business has been an effective strategy for many years. A basic assumption of this approach—and a primary motivation for using a JV structure—has been that an agency evaluating the JV’s past performance would normally look at the combined past performance of the JV members.
In many respects, this evaluation assumption has been a main motivation for using the JV structure, in contrast to a prime-subcontractor structure.
Typically, the large business JV member will have greater and more relevant past performance than the small business. The thinking had been that the JV structure would allow both members to leverage the large JV partner’s past performance for evaluation purposes by imputing the large business’ past performance to the JV.
However, the recent GAO bid protest decision in ProSecure LLC calls this assumption into doubt, suggesting the need for adjustments to proposal strategies for large and small firms in JVs or that plan to use JVs.
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“Adapting JV Proposal Strategies after GAO Downgrade Ruling,” by Albert B. Krachman was first published in Law360 on June 17, 2020.