In past solicitations when a SBPP was required, (the government) would provide a minimum participation percentage (goal) that the Offeror will be required to meet or provide an explanation when they are unable to meet that goal. i.e. see the following is an excerpt from the DoD Guide SB Evaluation guidance:
Small Business Evaluation (See Appendix C for LPTA). The SSEB shall evaluate the extent of participation of small business concerns (see paragraph 184.108.40.206.3 for evaluation methodologies). The small business participation objectives or requirements shall be clearly stated in the solicitation and, when possible, should state percentage goals for work to be performed by small businesses with applicable breakdown of goals for various categories of small business concerns (e.g., small business, small disadvantaged business, historically underutilized business zone small business, etc.). The ratings utilized for the small business evaluation will be dependent on the small business evaluation methodology utilized.
On the other hand the SB community has been pushing the opposite, leaving it up to the Offeror to submit the Minimum Quantitative Requirement (MQR) - in their Small Business Participation Plan. Is this conflicting guidance or am I misunderstanding the applicability and use, who determines the minimum participation goal or requirement?
The SB community has been instructing that it is up to the Contracting Officer to either:
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1) provide a Minimum Quantitative Requirement (MQR) in the solicitation so that offerors must meet it in their Small Business Participation Commitment Document (formerly Small Business Participation Plan) or
2) be silent in the solicitation on the MQR and have offerors propose their own MQR.
You would choose whichever is best for your situation, however, in a lot of cases it is probably better if the government provides the MQR that the contractor has to meet.
MQR is a requirement to be met in the contract. The term "goals" used in the DoD Source Selection Procedures is not a requirement as it says that they should be included "when possible", and I think it does add confusion as "goals" should only be referred to in the Subcontracting Plan, which is not an evaluation factor for award but rather assessed to be acceptable or not by the contracting officer. FAR 19.702(a)(1), states,
"In negotiated acquisitions, each solicitation of offers to perform a contract that is expected to exceed $700,000 ($1.5 million for construction) and that has subcontracting possibilities, shall require the apparently successful offeror to submit an acceptable subcontracting plan. If the apparently successful offeror fails to negotiate a subcontracting plan acceptable to the contracting officer within the time limit prescribed by the contracting officer, the offeror will be ineligible for award."
The SB community is trying to distinguish "goals", which don't have to be met in the contract, and MQR, which would have to be met in a contract as it would be a requirement.