What is the Certificate of Competency Program? -029

Did you know that if you that if you are a small business and a contracting officer determines that your business is non-responsible that the contracting officer has to refer the matter to SBA? Learn more about this program and how you can ask to have a Certificate of Competency performed on your business.

Certificate of Competency

SBA administers the Certificate of Competency Program under the Small Business Act (section 8(b)(7).  A Certificate of Competency is also known as a COC.  It is a written document to a contracting officer certifying that one or more small business are responsible for performing a contract.  Most importantly, this program applies to all Government contracting actions to include Multiple Award Contracts and any orders placed against Multiple Award Contracts when the contracting officer has had any issues with capacity or credit to determine suitability for an award.  Usually, on Multiple Award Contracts, the contracting officer will determine responsibility at the time of contract award.  However, a contracting officer can also make a responsibility determination for any orders issued against the Multiple Award Contract.

Once a contracting officer determines that a small business may not be responsible, the CO will notify SBA for a Certificate of Competency. It does not matter even if the next apparent successful offeror is also a small business.

When must the Contracting Officer refer to SBA for a COC?

If the contracting officer denies an apparent successful small business award of a contract or task/delivery order for non-responsibility, then SBA will make a determination.  If the contracting officer refuses to consider a small business for contract award or delivery/task order because the small business failed to meet a definitive responsibility criterion contained within the solicitation, then it will be referred to SBA.  A small business referred to SBA as non-responsible may apply to SBA for a Certificate of Competency.  If the applicant is a non-manufacturer on a supply contract, the COC applies to the responsibility of the non-manufacturer, instead of the manufacturer.


What is a Certificate of Competency?
What is a Certificate of Competency?

The small business seeking a Certificate of Competency has the burden of proof to demonstrate that it is eligible.  To be eligible the small business must qualify as a small business under the applicable size standard and must agree to comply with the applicable limitations on subcontracting and the nonmanufacturer rule if applicable.  SBA will deem a small business ineligible for a Certificate of Competency if the small business or any of its principals listed in the Excluded Parties Listing.

CO’s referral to SBA

The Contracting Officer will refer the Certificate of Competency request to SBA in writing to the nearest serving Government Contracting Area Office and include:

1.)        Solicitation;

2.)       Small business offer;

3.)      Abstract or bids or Contracting Officer’s Price Negotiation Memorandum whichever is applicable;

4.)      Preaward survey if applicable;

5.)     Determination by Contracting Officer of written non-responsibility

6.)    Technical data pack to include drawings, specifications, and Statement of work;

7.)     Any other documentation and justification used to make a decision of non-responsibility.

The contract award will be held for 15 workdays or longer if agreed to by SBA and Contracting Officer.  The Certificate of Competency referral will also indicate that the business has been responsive to the solicitation.  In addition, the reasons for non-responsibility determination have been identified.

SBA will notify the business of the contracting officer’s unfavorable determination.  They will also offer an opportunity to apply to SBA  by a specified date.

Upon receipt of a complete application, SBA may elect to visit the small businesses facility to review its responsibility.  Therefore, SBA may obtain information from suppliers, financial institutions, and other parties who the business believes defends their responsibility.

SBA does not process incomplete applications. However, SBA will notify the contracting officer and small business with a declination letter.  Once SBA approves the Certificate of Competency, SBA will monitor the small business contract performance.

Well, that covers the Certificate of Competency program as it applies to small businesses.  For more articles on government contracting or to listen to our podcast.