I wrote about conflicts between the FAR and SBA regulations in the September 2015 Nash & Cibinic Report:
This is a questionable position given that both the U.S. Court of Federal Claims and the GAO have viewed the SBA regulations as controlling when they conflict with the FAR. In C & G Excavating, Inc. v. U.S., 32 Fed. Cl. 231 (1994), 36 GC ¶ 599, the court dealt with a FAR rule that limited the scope of SBA review to those areas of responsibility identified as lacking by the CO when considering an application for a COC. The SBA regulations contained no such limitation. In resolving the conflict, the court stated:
In Adams Industrial Services, Inc., Comp. Gen. Dec. B-280186, 98-2 CPD ¶ 56, 1998 WL 546000, 40 GC ¶ 460, the GAO sustained a protest where the agency, relying on FAR 19.302(j) (48 C.F.R. § 19.302(j) (1998)), argued that size protests received after award had no effect on the award—they only have prospective applicability. The GAO stated:
See also Diagnostic Imaging Technical Education Center, Inc., Comp. Gen. Dec. B-257590, 94-2 CPD ¶ 148, 1994 WL 588043, 36 GC ¶ 609 (timely filed postaward size protest applied to instant award despite FAR stating that decisions on such protests have only prospective applicability).
Thus, if a conflict exists between the FAR and the SBA regulations, it seems that a CO would be in the difficult position of having to deviate from the FAR to comply with the law as interpreted by the Court of Federal Claims and GAO. See FAR Subpart 1.4, “Deviations from the FAR.”
In C & G Excavating, the Court of Federal Claims stated:
Having said that, I don't think its practical or reasonable to require COs to request deviations for every small business set-aside (what ji said).
However, if the issue were protested, the GAO and the COFC would likely defer to the SBA regulations to resolve the conflict. But maybe not. In this case, there is a proposed rule in the pipeline to revise the FAR. In the cases I cited above there was a conflict that the FAR Council was ignoring.