Jump to content
The Wifcon Forums and Blogs
Desparado

Selecting Companies for 8(a) Industry Day

Recommended Posts

Situation: I am considering holding an 8(a) Industry Day for my regional office.  It will be for 8(a) companies that work a specific NAICS that our organization uses. There is no specific solicitation or requirement on the street.  We are merely interested in learning about companies' capabilities should a sole source 8(a) opportunity occur (which does about 2-3 times a year).

Problem:  Space is limited so we could can only permit a limited number of companies to participate

Question;  Is there a required process in order to assure fairness to allow/disallow companies to participate, or is "fairness" even an issue in this situation? 

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

There is no required process.  

You don't want to be unfair, but there is no required process for fairness.

If you already know enough firms, invite them.

If you don't, maybe you ask SBA for recommendations.

Maybe you advertise it [make a public notice generally describing your organization's contracting needs] and ask interested firms to send you a one-page statement of experience and skills, and you pick the ones most intriguing [promising] to you.  [Say in the notice that you may hold further exchanges with none, some, or all responders depending on the Government's needs.]

 

Edited by ji20874
Don't advertise the party and then not invite people.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Thanks jl.

I had some concern that if we did request the one-page statement and then didn't select a company, could there be any negative repercussions from that?

I appreciate the prompt response!

 

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

If you only have room for ten, then you cannot invite eleven.  If you get twelve interest statements, pick the ten that seem most promising.  You do not need to apologize the the other two -- just hold your event with your invitees.

Let me modify my earlier answer to help avoid any hurt feelings.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Desparado,

The Industry Day is a means to an end or a set of ends.  You’ve already noted, “We are interested in learning about companies’ capabilities,” so you understand the Industry Day (or presolicitation conference) is a market research technique.  FAR 10.002(b)(2)(viii).

In deciding the rigor with which you conduct this market research, consider how you might use it.  If you submit a DD Form 2579 (or whatever form you use to coordinate with small business), and want to use the results of the presolicitation conference to support your decision to NOT set aside the effort under the 8(a) BD program, the extent the small business specialist will find the presolicitation conference market research data point useful may hinge on how well it was attended, whether the right folks were invited or attended, whether you posted the materials to FBO and encouraged firms who couldn’t participate to send in capability statements, along with the other suggestions others have already posted.

If, on the other hand, you expect the presolicitation conference is only a small part of any market research that would be conducted in support of future contract actions, you don’t really have anything to worry about in the short term.  While there are plenty of bid protests that focus on the adequacy of the Government’s market research, those protests aren’t filed until after the agency has taken action in reliance on that market research.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I would agree that an "Industry Day" is not prohibited.  I do have some thoughts to consider.

Why an industry day?  Why not just reach out to the contractors on an individual basis to learn of the capabilities. This independent review is allowed (and I might add encouraged) (REF. 19.804(1)(e).

Remember 8(a) works like this.   An agency offers the project to the 8(a) program and can, but does not have to offer in the name of a particular firm.  Once accepted as an 8(a) project by SBA they do not have to provide the project to the suggested firm.  While most of the time they will, if for some reason the match can not be made as suggested by the agency, SBA can select another firm for the project.   In noting the process, limiting yourself might leave out some firms that will demand your independent effort beyond the industry day at some point.  To this point I would be asking the SBA office something like this now - If you can not match my project with my selected firm (or the firms you know about) who will be in the mix otherwise?   Doing this outreach is encouraged by Departmental 8(a) Partnership Agreements where in it is stated that - "...where appropriate, identify in conjunction with the appropriate SBA servicing office, 8(a) Participants capable of performing these requirements..."   Many times if the local district does not have capable firms (remember capable from SBA's view is that they are compliant with program rules, have their appropriate competitive mix accomplished and so on) they will extend the search and match with firms in adjacent districts.

All in all what I am promoting is doing independent review of firms as opposed to industry day.   I know it takes more work but my personal view is the one on one with firms will allow for a more productive review where a review done in a more public eye firms might be reserved, and the government as well, in asking some very searching questions. 

 

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
23 hours ago, Weno2 said:

Conduct a webinar or have a web-conference with the contractors who are unable to invite.

Thank you... I don't know that a web-conference will work because this isn't about us telling them things... it's about us learning about the capabilities of companies out there.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
5 hours ago, Jacques said:

Desparado,

The Industry Day is a means to an end or a set of ends.  You’ve already noted, “We are interested in learning about companies’ capabilities,” so you understand the Industry Day (or presolicitation conference) is a market research technique.  FAR 10.002(b)(2)(viii).

In deciding the rigor with which you conduct this market research, consider how you might use it.  If you submit a DD Form 2579 (or whatever form you use to coordinate with small business), and want to use the results of the presolicitation conference to support your decision to NOT set aside the effort under the 8(a) BD program, the extent the small business specialist will find the presolicitation conference market research data point useful may hinge on how well it was attended, whether the right folks were invited or attended, whether you posted the materials to FBO and encouraged firms who couldn’t participate to send in capability statements, along with the other suggestions others have already posted.

If, on the other hand, you expect the presolicitation conference is only a small part of any market research that would be conducted in support of future contract actions, you don’t really have anything to worry about in the short term.  While there are plenty of bid protests that focus on the adequacy of the Government’s market research, those protests aren’t filed until after the agency has taken action in reliance on that market research.

The reason is to expand our knowledge about the capabilities of 8(a) companies in this field.  It is not a presolicitation conference.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
4 hours ago, C Culham said:

I would agree that an "Industry Day" is not prohibited.  I do have some thoughts to consider.

Why an industry day?  Why not just reach out to the contractors on an individual basis to learn of the capabilities. This independent review is allowed (and I might add encouraged) (REF. 19.804(1)(e).

Remember 8(a) works like this.   An agency offers the project to the 8(a) program and can, but does not have to offer in the name of a particular firm.  Once accepted as an 8(a) project by SBA they do not have to provide the project to the suggested firm.  While most of the time they will, if for some reason the match can not be made as suggested by the agency, SBA can select another firm for the project.   In noting the process, limiting yourself might leave out some firms that will demand your independent effort beyond the industry day at some point.  To this point I would be asking the SBA office something like this now - If you can not match my project with my selected firm (or the firms you know about) who will be in the mix otherwise?   Doing this outreach is encouraged by Departmental 8(a) Partnership Agreements where in it is stated that - "...where appropriate, identify in conjunction with the appropriate SBA servicing office, 8(a) Participants capable of performing these requirements..."   Many times if the local district does not have capable firms (remember capable from SBA's view is that they are compliant with program rules, have their appropriate competitive mix accomplished and so on) they will extend the search and match with firms in adjacent districts.

All in all what I am promoting is doing independent review of firms as opposed to industry day.   I know it takes more work but my personal view is the one on one with firms will allow for a more productive review where a review done in a more public eye firms might be reserved, and the government as well, in asking some very searching questions. 

 

Thank you.  I have been burned by allowing the SBA to select a firm before, so I would prefer to know of several firms that can do the work that we do and their capabilities so should a time come in the future, we have increased knowledge in this area.  I really would prefer to have several companies tell us at once as opposed to a parade of companies telling us over several days/weeks, which is why I thought an I.D. would be perfect.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
1 hour ago, Desparado said:

Thank you.  I have been burned by allowing the SBA to select a firm before, so I would prefer to know of several firms that can do the work that we do and their capabilities so should a time come in the future, we have increased knowledge in this area.  I really would prefer to have several companies tell us at once as opposed to a parade of companies telling us over several days/weeks, which is why I thought an I.D. would be perfect.

You can reject the firm the SBA offers you.  Appeal of such a rejection is an agency head to SBA administrator matter.  I suspect these days such an appeal by SBA would be rare especially based on sound reasoning.  Reference FAR 19.810.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
1 hour ago, Desparado said:

The reason is to expand our knowledge about the capabilities of 8(a) companies in this field.  It is not a presolicitation conference.

Maybe the Industry Day qualifies as an "early exchange[] of information about future acquisitions," to quote FAR 15.201(c).  The idea is the same--it is part of your market research.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
6 hours ago, ji20874 said:

Don't agonize, and don't make this too hard.  Just do it.  

I agree.  I made a recommendation based on my experience of what works best based on 15 years with the SBA as a contracting officer for the 8(a) program that is it.  Your idea is better if you embrace it.    To the point of ji's comment in the statutorily allowed world of a sole source 8(a) I too would not worry about FAR Part 15, 10 etc.   I might be oversimplifying but essentially there is not limitation to what is possible with regard to determining the best of the 8(a) firms using a specific strategy  because if it is not prohibited in FAR subpart 19.8 as a method  of independent review of firms the strategy is a permissible exercise of authority. 

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Well, Carl, I actually like your idea of one-on-ones, and recommend that as the focus of the original poster's industry day.  The original poster says they're more interested in listening rather than talking, so the industry day could be a series of one-on-one meetings with the most promising firms.  Since this is for a regional event, with multiple program offices, it can be simultaneous and rotating one-on-ones (like a career fair), as there is no requirement for contracting officer attendance this early in the process.  The contracting officer can be in the hall (or not), and need not sit at every table for every one-on-one exchange.  Indeed, the agency's SADBUS can host the industry day without any contracting officer participation at all.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

jl - I prefer all the 8(a) contractors in a large room, and then the government program people can rotate from table to table to talk with them about their capabilities.  we won't have time to schedule a bunch of one-on-ones, individually scheduled.  This way the firms are all together (so perhaps they could even network among themselves, don't care if they do or not) and the program peeps can simply learn about each firm.  Sort of like the old GSA Expo, except MUCH smaller and more focused.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Right.  Each of those table exchanges is its own one-on-one -- that's why I mentioned "in the hall" and "at every table."  Full speed ahead!

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
On 10/3/2019 at 5:30 PM, C Culham said:

You can reject the firm the SBA offers you.  Appeal of such a rejection is an agency head to SBA administrator matter.  

Most people find another approach.  Getting agency head signature takes weeks at most agencies.  In fact, months might be more appropriate in many cases

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

It is the contracting officer, not the agency head, who rejects the SBA's recommended source.  The contracting officer does not need agency head permission.

And then, it is the SBA who appeals (with strict notice and timeliness requirements) and the agency head makes the final decision.  There is no deadline for the agency head's decision.

See FAR 19.810.

Really, all the power lies with the contracting officer and the agency, not the SBA.  I have only had one of these appeals in my career, and my agency head supported me.

 

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Right you are ji20874.  That didn’t sound right to me but I should have looked it up before responding.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Join the conversation

You can post now and register later. If you have an account, sign in now to post with your account.

Guest
Reply to this topic...

×   Pasted as rich text.   Paste as plain text instead

  Only 75 emoji are allowed.

×   Your link has been automatically embedded.   Display as a link instead

×   Your previous content has been restored.   Clear editor

×   You cannot paste images directly. Upload or insert images from URL.


×
×
  • Create New...