What is suspension and how is a Participant suspended from the 8(a) BD program?
Except as set forth in paragraph (h) of this section, at any time after SBA issues a Letter of Intent to Terminate an 8(a) Participant pursuant to § 124.304, the AA/BD may suspend 8(a) contract support and all other forms of 8(a) BD program assistance to that Participant until the issue of the Participant's termination from the program is finally determined. The AA/BD may suspend a Participant when he or she determines that suspension is needed to protect the interests of the Federal Government, such as where information showing a clear lack of program eligibility or conduct indicating a lack of business integrity exists, including where the concern or one of its principals submitted false statements to the Federal Government. SBA will suspend a Participant where SBA determines that the Participant submitted false information in its 8(a) BD application.
SBA will issue a Notice of Suspension to the Participant's last known address by certified mail, return receipt requested. Suspension is effective as of the date of the issuance of the Notice. The Notice will provide the following information:
The basis for the suspension;
A statement that the suspension will continue pending the completion of further investigation, a final program termination determination, or some other specified period of time;
A statement that awards of competitive and non-competitive 8(a) contracts, including those which have been “self-marketed” by a Participant, will not be made during the pendency of the suspension unless it is determined by the head of the relevant procuring agency or an authorized representative to be in the best interest of the Government to do so, and SBA adopts that determination;
A statement that the concern is obligated to complete previously awarded section 8(a) contracts;
A statement that the suspension is effective nationally throughout SBA;
A statement that a request for a hearing on the suspension will be considered by an Administrative Law Judge at OHA, and granted or denied as a matter of discretion.
A statement that the firm's participation in the program is suspended effective on the date the Notice is served, and that the program term will resume only if the suspension is lifted or the firm is not terminated.
The Participant may appeal a Notice of Suspension by filing a petition in accordance with part 134 of this chapter with OHA within 45 days after the concern receives the Notice of Suspension pursuant to paragraph (b) of this section. It is contemplated that in most cases a hearing on the issue of the suspension will be afforded if the Participant requests one, but authority to grant a hearing is within the discretion of the Administrative Law Judge in OHA. A suspension remains in effect pending the result of its appeal.
SBA has the burden of showing that adequate evidence exists that protection of the Federal Government's interest requires suspension before OHA or the AA/BD makes a final determination regarding the termination action.
The term “adequate evidence” means information contained in the record before the AA/BD at the time of his or her suspension decision that is sufficient to support the reasonable belief that the Government's interests need to be protected.
SBA need not demonstrate that an act or omission actually occurred in order for OHA to uphold a suspension. SBA's burden in a suspension proceeding is limited to demonstrating that it had a reasonable belief that a particular act or omission occurred, and that that act or omission requires suspension to protect the interests of the Government.
Unless the Administrative Law Judge consolidates the suspension and termination proceedings, OHA's review is limited to determining whether the Government's interests need to be protected, and will not consider the merits of the termination action.
If there is a timely appeal, the decision of the Administrative Law Judge is the final SBA decision. If there is not a timely appeal, the decision of the AA/BD is the final Agency decision.
Upon the request of SBA, OHA may consolidate suspension and termination proceedings when the issues presented are identical.
Any program suspension which occurs under this section is effective until such time as SBA lifts the suspension or the Participant's participation in the program is fully terminated. If the concern is ultimately not terminated from the 8(a) BD program, the suspension will be lifted and the length of the suspension will be added to the concern's program term.
SBA will suspend a Participant from receiving further 8(a) BD program benefits when termination proceedings have not been commenced pursuant to § 124.304 where:
A Participant requests a change of ownership and/or control and SBA discovers that a change of ownership or control has in fact occurred prior to SBA's approval; or
A disadvantaged individual who is involved in the ownership and/or control of the Participant is called to active military duty by the United States, his or her participation in the firm's management and daily business operations is critical to the firm's continued eligibility, and the Participant elects not to designate a non-disadvantaged individual to control the concern during the call-up period pursuant to § 124.106(h).
A suspension initiated under paragraph (h) of this section will be commenced by the issuance of a notice similar to that required for termination-related suspensions under paragraph (b) of this section, except that a suspension issued under paragraph (h) is not appealable.
Where a Participant is suspended pursuant to paragraph (h)(1)(i) of this section and SBA approves the change of ownership and/or control, the length of the suspension will be added to the firm's program term only where the change in ownership or control results from the death or incapacity of a disadvantaged individual or where the firm requested prior approval and waited at least 60 days for SBA approval before making the change.
Where a Participant is suspended pursuant to paragraph (h)(1)(ii) of this section, the Participant must notify SBA when the disadvantaged individual returns to control the firm so that SBA can immediately lift the suspension. When the suspension is lifted, the length of the suspension will be added to the concern's program term.
Effect of suspension.
Once a suspension is issued pursuant to this section, a Participant cannot receive any additional 8(a) BD program assistance, including new 8(a) contract awards, for as long as the Participant is suspended. This includes any procurement requirements that the firm has self-marketed and those that have been accepted into the 8(a) BD program on behalf of the suspended concern. However, the suspended Participant must complete any previously awarded 8(a) contracts.
SBA does not recognize the concept of de facto suspension. Adding time to the end of a Participant's program term equal to the length of a suspension will occur only where a concern's program participation has been formally suspended in accordance with the procedures set forth in this section.
A suspension from 8(a) BD participation under this section has no effect on a concern's eligibility for non-8(a) Federal Government contracts. However, a debarment or suspension under the Federal Acquisition Regulation (48 CFR, chapter 1) will disqualify a concern from receiving all Federal Government contracts, including 8(a) contracts.
[63 FR 35739, June 30, 1998, as amended at 67 FR 47246, July 18, 2002; 74 FR 45753, Sept. 4, 2009; 76 FR 8259, Feb. 11, 2011]