Piliero Mazza & Pargament, PLLC   Vol. 6, Issue 3  March 2004

Addressing Tribal and Alaska Native Corporation Legal and Business Issues

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  A R T I C L E S

ASK THE ADVOCATE - Mentor/Protégé Program
COURT WATCH - The Supreme Court Holds in Favor of Federal Environmental Authorities
GOVERNMENT CONTRACTING - Joint Venturing as a Small Business (Part I)
REGULATORY UPDATE - Environmental Protection Agency and Bureau of Indian Affairs
SMALL BUSINESS - Sole Source Awards for Service Disabled Veterans


Q: What is a Mentor/Protégé Program?

A: Generally, Mentor/Protégé Programs are available through government agencies and allow companies to enter into agreements for the provision of developmental assistance and support. Mentors are usually more experienced companies, while protégés are new and/or small businesses generally owned by socially and economically disadvantaged individuals, women or veterans. Agencies provide certain incentives to capable mentors who provide their assistance and experience to protégé firms. The various agency programs are intended to enhance the capabilities of participating protégé firms and improve their effectiveness in competing for federal contracts.

Many government agencies have established mentor/protégé programs; others are on the horizon. While basically similar, each agency has slightly different participation requirements and rules that govern allowable mentor/protégé relationships. For example, agencies differ as to a mentor’s permitted ownership, interest in a protégé and on the number of mentors a protégé may have. Generally, SBA does not allow a mentor to have more than one protégé at a time. Neither SBA nor DOD allows a protégé to have more than one mentor at any one time under each program but nothing prevents an 8(a) protege from having one mentor under SBA’s program and another under another agency program.



The Supreme Court Holds in Favor of Federal Environmental Authorities

The Supreme Court ruled on January 21, 2004, in favor of the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), holding that the agency had the authority to overrule the Alaska Department of Environmental Conservation regarding a dispute over a lead and zinc mine. In a 5-4 decision, the Supreme Court’s ruling could have an effect on future EPA dealings with state environmental authorities.

The dispute revolved around acceptable levels of pollution being generated by mining equipment at the Red Dog Mine, a mine operated by Cominco in partnership with the Northwest Arctic Native Association. The federal government wanted the mine operator to use equipment at the facility that substantially reduced the pollutants created by mining activities. The state allowed the mining company to use equipment that did not reduce pollution levels to an acceptable amount under the Clean Air Act (CAA).




Joint Venturing as a Small Business (Part I)

Recent trends in government contracting have seen the federal government issuing larger and more complex procurements. Many small businesses lack the capacity to effectively compete alone for these requirements. However, small businesses have an effective tool by which they can team together to become competitive in the procurement marketplace. The joint venture has become an increasingly utilized device for enterprising small businesses seeking to gain an advantage in the government contracting arena. During the next few months, the Tribal Advocate will concentrate on the benefits and structure of joint venture agreements. This month’s focus is on small business programs administered by the Small Business Administration (SBA).

Joint ventures are becoming more popular for contracts offered and accepted under SBA’s small business programs. Because of "contract bundling" and in recognition of the fact that small businesses often gain valuable technical skills and experience from co-managing federal contracts with other firms, SBA through its regulations and policies has sought to increase the attractiveness of joint ventures by relaxing its affiliation rules under certain circumstances.




The Environmental Protection Agency has extended the comment period for its proposed rule governing disadvantaged business enterprises’ participation in procurements under financial assistance agreements. Comments are due March 4, 2004.

The Bureau of Indian Affairs has posted a notice of proposed rulemaking for trust management reform. The proposed rule would revise regulations governing residential leases and business leases on trust and restricted land. Comments are due May 10, 2004.




Sole Source Awards for Service Disabled Veterans

Tribal Advocate staff members recently attended the "First Tuesday Association Briefings" hosted by the U.S. Department of Agriculture and moderated by Jim House, Director of the Department’s Office of Small and Disadvantaged Business Utilization. The focus of the briefing was a new small business contracting program for service-disabled veterans that recently became law.

By way of background, the president signed the Veterans Benefits Act of 2003 (PL 108-183 or Act) into law on December 16, 2003. Included in the Act under Section 308 is an amendment to the Small Business Act that allows contracting officers to award sole source and restricted competition procurements to small businesses owned by service-disabled veterans (SDV(s)).



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