Wednesday, February 10, 2016

Certificates of Competency (CoC)

A Certificate of Competency (CoC) is the certificate issued by the Small Business Administration (SBA) stating that the holder is responsible for the purpose of receiving and performing a specific Government contract. Thus, a CoC does not apply to any contract the holder might choose to bid on - only the specific solicitation for which it was granted. Responsibility includes, but is not limited to, capability, competency, capacity, credit, integrity, perseverance, tenacity, and limitations of subcontracting.

The CoC program empowers the SBA to certify to Government contracting officers as to all elements of responsibility of any small business concern to receive and perform a contract. It does not extend to questions concerning regulatory requirements imposed and enforced by other Federal agencies.

If a contracting officer determines an apparent successful small business offeror to be non-responsible, he/she must refer that small business to the SBA for a possible CoC.

Once a case has been referred to the SBA, there is an application process that the small business prospective contractor must go through for the purpose of furnishing sufficient competent evidential matter to support a competency determination. The SBA review is not limited to just the information included in the prospective contractors application. Most likely, the SBA will solicit information from other Government agencies with knowledge of and experience with the prospective contractor. The SBA will also query the contracting officer on the rationale for finding the company to be non-responsive.

If the SBA declines to issue a Certificate of Competency, the prospective contractor can appeal the determination to the United States Court of Federal Claims. It seems to us however that the chances of having an SBA CoC denial overturned is slim. We found three cases where determinations were appealed and in each case, the SBA decision was not overturned.

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