Small Business Issues

The U.S. government provides great opportunities for small businesses in programs aimed at setting aside contract awards to such concerns.  Dempsey Fontana is well-versed in assisting businesses of all sizes navigate the specialized rules that apply to issues related to the formation of small businesses, applications to various SBA small business programs, teaming agreements and joint ventures between small businesses and between small and large businesses, small business affiliation issues, mentor-protégé agreements, small business size and status challenges, and bid protests involving small businesses.  Our attorneys have extensive experience with issues arising under all SBA programs, including the Section 8(a) Business Development, Small Disadvantaged Business (SDB), Veteran-Owned (VO), Service-Disabled Veteran-Owned (SDVO), Historically Underutilized Business Zone (HUBZone), Women-Owned (WO), and Small Business Subcontracting programs. 

Navigating the rules that apply to small businesses is also important to large government contractors that team with small businesses.  For example, prime contractors and subcontractors on contracts over certain dollar amounts must submit subcontracting plans setting forth specific percentage goals for different types of small businesses.  In addition, it is common for large businesses to team with small businesses under small business set-aside contracts.  Dempsey Fontana frequently counsels large business clients on the unique issues that can arise when teaming with, or acting as a subcontractor to, small businesses in small business set aside procurements, including compliance with limitations on subcontracting (i.e., the “50 percent rule”), the non-manufacturer rule and the development of small business subcontracting plans and other SBA-related regulatory matters. 

Finally, Dempsey Fontana represents clients challenging the size and status of competitors believed to be bending or violating the rules and in defending such challenges.  This includes proceedings before the SBA area offices for government contracting, as well as appeals before SBA’s Office of Hearings and Appeals (OHA) and related court challenges, including at the U.S. Court of Federal Claims.  Our attorneys also litigate small business issues and veteran status issues before the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs (VA).


Our representative matters include:

  • Represented small businesses, including several 8(a) certified companies, in challenging the size status of proposed awardees and defending size protest challenges before various SBA area government contracting offices, as well as litigated appeals challenging such decisions before the SBA’s Office of Hearings and Appeals.
  • Negotiated numerous teaming agreements and joint venture agreements and subcontracts between small businesses and between small and large businesses.
  • Counseled and guided small contractors on admission to VA’s SDVO program, the HUBZone program, the WOSB program and 8(a) program.
  • Advised small business contractors on avoiding issues involving “affiliation” with non-small businesses.