Protest Against Nonresponsibility Determination

B-197663: Apr 21, 1980

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A small business concern that was otherwise in line for award was determined to be nonresponsible because of poor performance on a prior contract and because the concern pled guilty to an antitrust violation. The firm protested the procuring agency's action on the ground that, as a small business, it had a right to have the question of its responsibility referred to the Small Business Administration (SBA). GAO agreed with the protester. SBA is empowered without exception to certify conclusively to Government procurement officials with respect to all elements of responsibility. Thus, all questions regarding the responsibility of small businesses must be referred to SBA for final disposition. GAO recommended that the contracting officer refer the matter to the appropriate SBA officials for possible issuance of a Certificate of Competency (COC). If the COC is issued, the protester will have the option of accepting award for the balance of the contract term.