13 CFR § 125.6 - What are the prime contractor's limitations on subcontracting?
(a) General. In order to be awarded a full or partial small business set-aside contract with a value greater than the simplified acquisition threshold (as defined in the FAR at 48 CFR 2.101), an 8(a) contract, an SDVOSB contract, a VOSB contract, a HUBZone contract, or a WOSB or EDWOSB contract pursuant to part 127 of this chapter, a small business concern must agree that:
(1) In the case of a contract for services (except construction), it will not pay more than 50% of the amount paid by the government to it to firms that are not similarly situated. Any work that a similarly situated subcontractor further subcontracts will count towards the 50% subcontract amount that cannot be exceeded. Other direct costs may be excluded to the extent they are not the principal purpose of the acquisition and small business concerns do not provide the service, such as airline travel, work performed by a transportation or disposal entity under a contract assigned the environmental remediation NAICS code (562910), cloud computing services, or mass media purchases. In addition, work performed overseas on awards made pursuant to the Foreign Assistance Act of 1961 or work required to be performed by a local contractor, is excluded.
(i) In the case of a contract for supplies or products (other than from a nonmanufacturer of such supplies), it will not pay more than 50% of the amount paid by the government to it to firms that are not similarly situated. Any work that a similarly situated subcontractor further subcontracts will count towards the 50% subcontract amount that cannot be exceeded. Cost of materials are excluded and not considered to be subcontracted.
(ii) In the case of a contract for supplies from a nonmanufacturer, it will supply the product of a domestic small business manufacturer or processor, unless a waiver as described in § 121.406(b)(5) of this chapter is granted.
(A) For a multiple item procurement where a waiver as described in § 121.406(b)(5) of this chapter has not been granted for one or more items, more than 50% of the value of the products to be supplied by the nonmanufacturer must be the products of one or more domestic small business manufacturers or processors.
(B) For a multiple item procurement where a waiver as described in § 121.406(b)(5) of this chapter is granted for one or more items, compliance with the limitation on subcontracting requirement will be determined by combining the value of the items supplied by domestic small business manufacturers or processors with the value of the items subject to a waiver. As such, as long as the value of the items to be supplied by domestic small business manufacturers or processors plus the value of the items to be supplied that are subject to a waiver account for at least 50% of the value of the contract, the limitations on subcontracting requirement is met.
(C) For a multiple item procurement, the same small business concern may act as both a manufacturer and a nonmanufacturer.
(3) In the case of a contract for general construction, it will not pay more than 85% of the amount paid by the government to it to firms that are not similarly situated. Any work that a similarly situated subcontractor further subcontracts will count towards the 85% subcontract amount that cannot be exceeded. Cost of materials are excluded and not considered to be subcontracted.
(4) In the case of a contract for special trade contractors, no more than 75% of the amount paid by the government to the prime may be paid to firms that are not similarly situated. Any work that a similarly situated subcontractor further subcontracts will count towards the 75% subcontract amount that cannot be exceeded. Cost of materials are excluded and not considered to be subcontracted.
(b) Mixed contracts. Where a contract integrates any combination of services, supplies, or construction, the contracting officer shall select the appropriate NAICS code as prescribed in § 121.402(b) of this chapter. The contracting officer's selection of the applicable NAICS code is determinative as to which limitation on subcontracting and performance requirement applies. Based on the NAICS code selected, the relevant limitation on subcontracting requirement identified in paragraphs (a)(1) through (4) of this section will apply only to that portion of the contract award amount. In no case shall more than one limitation on subcontracting requirement apply to the same contract.
(c) Subcontracts to similarly situated entities. A small business concern prime contractor that receives a contract listed in paragraph (a) of this section and spends contract amounts on a subcontractor that is a similarly situated entity shall not consider those subcontracted amounts as subcontracted for purposes of determining whether the small business concern prime contractor has violated paragraph (a) of this section, to the extent the subcontractor performs the work with its own employees. Any work that the similarly situated subcontractor does not perform with its own employees shall be considered subcontracted. SBA will also exclude a subcontract to a similarly situated entity from consideration under the ostensible subcontractor rule (§ 121.103(h)(3)). A prime contractor may no longer count a similarly situated entity towards compliance with the limitations on subcontracting where the subcontractor ceases to qualify as small or under the relevant socioeconomic status.
(d) Determining compliance with applicable limitation on subcontracting. The period of time used to determine compliance for a total or partial set-aside contract will generally be the base term and then each subsequent option period. However, for a multi-agency set aside contract where more than one agency can issue orders under the contract, the ordering agency must use the period of performance for each order to determine compliance. For an order set aside under a full and open contract or a full and open contract with reserve, the agency will use the period of performance for each order to determine compliance unless the order is competed among small and other-than-small businesses (in which case the subcontracting limitations will not apply).
(1) The contracting officer, in his or her discretion, may require the concern to comply with the applicable limitations on subcontracting and the nonmanufacturer rule for each order awarded under a total or partial set-aside contract.
(2) Compliance will be considered an element of responsibility and not a component of size eligibility.
(3) Work performed by an independent contractor shall be considered a subcontract, and may count toward meeting the applicable limitation on subcontracting where the independent contractor qualifies as a similarly situated entity.
(e) Past Performance Evaluation. Where an agency determines that a contractor has not met the applicable limitation on subcontracting requirement at the conclusion of contract performance, the agency must notify the business concern and give it the opportunity to explain any extenuating or mitigating circumstances that negatively impacted its ability to do so.
(1) Where a small business does not provide any extenuating or mitigating circumstances or the agency determines that the concern's failure to meet the applicable limitation on subcontracting requirement was not beyond the concern's control, the agency may not give a satisfactory or higher past performance rating for the appropriate factor or subfactor in accordance with FAR 42.1503.
(2) Where a contracting officer determines that extenuating circumstances warrant a satisfactory/positive past performance evaluation for the appropriate evaluation factor or subfactor and the individual at least one level above the contracting officer concurs with that determination, a satisfactory or higher past performance rating may be given.
(i) Extenuating or mitigating circumstances that could lead to a satisfactory/positive rating include, but are not limited to, unforeseen labor shortages, modifications to the contract's scope of work which were requested or directed by the Government, emergency or rapid response requirements that demand immediate subcontracting actions by the prime small business concern, unexpected changes to a subcontractor's designation as a similarly situated entity (as defined in § 125.1), differing site or environmental conditions which arose during the course of performance, force majeure events, and the contractor's good faith reliance upon a similarly situated subcontractor's representation of size or relevant socioeconomic status.
(ii) An agency cannot rely on any circumstances that were within the contractor's control, or those which could have been mitigated without imposing an undue cost or burden on the contractor.
(f) Inapplicability of limitations on subcontracting. The limitations on subcontracting do not apply to:
(1) Small business set-aside contracts with a value that is greater than the micro-purchase threshold but less than or equal to the simplified acquisition threshold (as both terms are defined in the FAR at 48 CFR 2.101); or
(2) Subcontracts (except where a prime is relying on a similarly situated entity to meet the applicable limitations on subcontracting).
(3) For contracts where an independent contractor is not otherwise treated as an employee of the concern for which he/she is performing work for size purposes under § 121.106(a) of this chapter, work performed by the independent contractor shall be considered a subcontract. Such work will count toward meeting the applicable limitation on subcontracting where the independent contractor qualifies as a similarly situated entity.
(4) Contracting officers may, at their discretion, require the contractor to demonstrate its compliance with the limitations on subcontracting at any time during performance and upon completion of a contract if the information regarding such compliance is not already available to the contracting officer. Evidence of compliance includes, but is not limited to, invoices, copies of subcontracts, or a list of the value of tasks performed.
(g) Request to change applicable limitation on subcontracting. SBA may use different percentages if the Administrator determines that such action is necessary to reflect conventional industry practices among small business concerns that are below the numerical size standard for businesses in that industry group. Representatives of a national trade or industry group or any interested SBC may request a change in subcontracting percentage requirements for the categories defined by six digit industry codes in the North American Industry Classification System (NAICS) pursuant to the following procedures:
(1) Format of request. Requests from representatives of a trade or industry group and interested SBCs should be in writing and sent or delivered to the Director, Office of Government Contracting, U.S. Small Business Administration, 409 3rd Street SW., Washington, DC 20416. The requester must demonstrate to SBA that a change in percentage is necessary to reflect conventional industry practices among small business concerns that are below the numerical size standard for businesses in that industry category, and must support its request with information including, but not limited to:
(i) Information relative to the economic conditions and structure of the entire national industry;
(ii) Market data, technical changes in the industry and industry trends;
(iii) Specific reasons and justifications for the change in the subcontracting percentage;
(iv) The effect such a change would have on the Federal procurement process; and
(v) Information demonstrating how the proposed change would promote the purposes of the small business, 8(a), SDVOSB, VOSB, HUBZone, WOSB, or EDWOSB programs.
(2) Notice to public. Upon an adequate preliminary showing to SBA, SBA will publish in the Federal Register a notice of its receipt of a request that it considers a change in the subcontracting percentage requirements for a particular industry. The notice will identify the group making the request, and give the public an opportunity to submit information and arguments in both support and opposition.
(3) Comments. SBA will provide a period of not less than 30 days for public comment in response to the Federal Register notice.
(4) Decision. SBA will render its decision after the close of the comment period. If SBA decides against a change, SBA will publish notice of its decision in the Federal Register. Concurrent with the notice, SBA will advise the requester of its decision in writing. If SBA decides in favor of a change, SBA will propose an appropriate change to this part.
(h) Penalties. Whoever violates the requirements set forth in paragraph (a) of this section shall be subject to the penalties prescribed in 15 U.S.C. 645(d), except that the fine shall be treated as the greater of $500,000 or the dollar amount spent, in excess of permitted levels, by the entity on subcontractors. A party's failure to comply with the spirit and intent of a subcontract with a similarly situated entity may be considered a basis for debarment on the grounds, including but not limited to, that the parties have violated the terms of a Government contract or subcontract pursuant to FAR 9.406–2(b)(1)(i) (48 CFR 9.406–2(b)(1)(i)).