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SBA Issues Final Rule Regarding Affiliation, Calculation of Annual Receipts, Limitations on Subcontracting, and Joint Ventures

Authored by Neil S. Lowenstein

In its Final Rule issued May 31, 2016, the Small Business Administration issued rules implementing the 2013 National Defense Authorization Act. The Final Rule has a myriad of aspects applicable to awards in various small business programs, and this short summary is not intended to address them all; but rather instead this summarizes some of the provisions regarding affiliation, calculation of annual receipts, limitations on subcontracting and joint ventures.

The Final Rule expressly allows certain arrangements without establishing affiliation, while precluding others subject to rebuttable presumptions; including:

Calculation of Annual Receipts:
The Final Rule defines how SBA will calculate annual receipts when determining size. In short, receipts include all revenue (including passive income) from whatever source received or accrued; generally meaning the concern's total income (or gross income for sole proprietorships) plus the cost of goods sold as defined and reported to the IRS. Exclusions are identified in the Final Rule.

Limitations on Subcontracting:
Compliance is now determined by a percentage cap on the total amount of the prime contract paid to first tier subcontractors that are not “similarly situated” entities, instead of the previous limitation based on  costs. A similarly situated entity is a small business that participates in the same SBA program that qualified the prime contractor as an eligible offeror.

There is no requirement to apply the prime contract NAICs code to subcontracts. Instead, the prime contractor assigns the code applicable to the scope of work on each subcontract. The percentage limits set by statute are:

The method for calculating compliance with the limitations is complex, depends on whether the contract is for construction, supplies or services, or mixed supplies and services. Among other things, the cost of materials is typically not included, and there are exceptions when “nonmanufacturers” supply the product of a domestic small business manufacturer or processor.

While work done by a similarly situated first tier subcontractor does not count toward the limitations, any work that a similarly situated subcontractor further subcontracts will count towards the limitation.

Joint Ventures

The Final Rule allows a joint venture to qualify as small for any government procurement when each partner to the joint venture qualifies individually as small under the size standard corresponding to the NAICS code assigned by the government in the solicitation.


Under this Final Rule, when an acquisition or merger occurs after the offer date but prior to award the offeror must recertify its size to the contracting officer prior to award.

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