SBA HUBZone Certification Lawyers & ConsultantsWatson & Associates, LLC SBA Historically Underutilized Business Zone (HUBZone certification) lawyers serve as SBA attorney advisors to small businesses across the United States that are HUBZone certified but are facing potential or actual adverse action from the federal government. With over 30 years in the federal space, our professionals frequently handle a variety of legal concerns including civil and criminal investigations, HUBZone status bid protests, SBA size protests and more. Our goal is to help our clients stay compliant and to avoid some of the most costly legal mistakes seen while  bidding on, and performing federal government contracts. 

At some point you may face the challenge of defending your HUBZone small business status either to the SBA, Department of Justice (DOJ)  or OIG. This is not a fun situation to be in.  In other situations, companies are issues subpoenas for documents during a government investigation to show that the employee requirements are met. Also, when lower courts issue negative outcome for your company. Our government contract appellate attorneys, can assess the merits for file an appeal to the respective appellate court.

Although meeting the Small Business Administration SBA’s Historically Underutilized Business Zone (HUBZone) certification requirements may seem easy at first glance, it is the detailed assessment conducted by the SBA that gets small businesses in deep legal trouble.

With law offices in Washington, D.C. and Denver, Colorado, Watson & Associates’ Government HUBZone attorneys and SBA consultants help with various  small business issues on a daily basis.

 HUBZone Consultants and Attorney Services

 Watson & Associates’ government contract lawyers and SBA HUBZone certification consultants help small businesses nationwide to become certified and provide post-certification consulting and legal support that includes sole source matters, teaming agreements and subcontracting matters, and litigation help.  As SBA attorney advisors, the law firm also provides legal advice and guidance regarding small business contract novations,  litigation and appeals to (ASBCA and CBCA)(COFC and Federal Circuit), Certificate of Competency and contractor responsibility matters.

What are SBA HUBZone Requirements?

 SBA HUBZone certified small businesses must meet the statutory  HUB Zone requirements to benefit from small business HUBZone Program advantages.

Your initial SBA application must show that:

(1) you are a small business under the SBA size standards;

(2) the company must be owned and controlled at least 51% by U.S. citizens, or a Community Development Corporation, an agricultural cooperative, or an Indian tribe;

(3) Its principal office must be located within a “Historically Underutilized Business Zone,” which includes lands considered “Indian Country” and military facilities closed by the Base Realignment and Closure Act; and

(4) At least 35% of its employees must reside in a HUBZone.

HUBZone Bid Protest Lawyers

Although chances are that you are compliance under HUBZone regulations, your competition, or a government official, may still choose to challenge your status and the ultimate contract award.  Filing or defending a HUBZone bid protest can be frustrating and complex, depending on the facts. Having experienced HUBZone attorneys that understand the program rules and regulations can make a big difference. This is especially true, when intervenors face both a size protest and HUBZone status protests at the same time. If you are filing a HUBZone status protest, then having SBA lawyers that understand the rules and making the right arguments are essential to prevailing in litigation. 

SBA HUBZone Investigations

At some point while being HUBZone certified, you may find yourself being investigated by the SBA OIG or even the DOJ. Neither situation is pleasant. HUBZone fraud investigations can be very intense and long. Not only are they time-consuming, but the firm itself may be facing a Whistleblower Qui Tam case, and not be aware because the case is filed under seal. Our small business legal advisors handle these situations and serve as HUBZone investigation lawyers and contractor defense counsel. We help respond to government subpoenas and request for documents. If there is a criminal investigation, we serve as criminal defense counsel by working with local attorneys who are not experienced in federl HUBZone programs and the requirements.

HUBZone Fraud Defense Lawyers

Hubzone fraud defense lawyerPractice Area Lead Counsel Theodore Watson. Unfortunately, the SBA and other government law enforcement agencies are actively seeking out small businesses that have allegedly committed fraud against the federal government. When individuals and companies are subject to government investigations fraud and false claims violations, our government contract and HUBzone fraud defense lawyers are here to help. We have represented small businesses for alleged violations of SBA small business programs.  We understand the applicable regulations and flaws during federal investigations.

Can You Be Charged Under the False Claims Act for HUBZone Fraud? Yes. If you are found to have committed civil or criminal HUBZone fraud, each contract or benefit received and trigger charges under the False Claims Act. If government attorneys find that you obtained your HUBZone status or government contract using a fraudulent certification, the result would be a finding that the HUBZone firm fraudulently induces the government into awarding them the contract. During a criminal case, the prosecution will always try to elicit that the contracting officer would not have awarded the contract if he or she knew about the fraud at the time they awarded the contract.

What Does False Claims Act and HUBZone Fraud Cases Involve? The program clearly provides preferential access to federal contracts. Therefore, federal attorneys from the DOJ and or SBA OIG typically investigate cases where owners of the HUBZone firm allegedly misrepresent the percentage of employees living in a HUBZone; the owner does not control the business; where the HUBZone as the prime contractor fails to comply with the limitations on subcontracting rule; or falsely certify to be a small business. Having side agreements with other companies can also lead to False Claims Act criminal or civil liability and ultimately jail time for government contract fraud. These are areas where Watson’s government contract fraud defense attorneys can help.

 HUBZone Benefits & FAQs

Small businesses are essentially labeled ‘historically underutilized business zones. Small Businesses located in Qualified census tracts can participate in the SBA’s program and take advantage of certain small business government contracting preferences. Census tracks include Qualified non-metropolitan counties; Lands within the external boundaries of an Indian reservation; Qualified base closure areas and other statutory designations. The SBA makes the final determination as to whether your company meets the definition of a HUBZone.

Does my HUBZone business violate the Ostensible Subcontractor Rule as a Pass-Through Only? Your small business firm violates the ostensible subcontractor rule if your only contribution to a government contract is your status and the contract is essentially a pass-through. See Size Appeal of C.E. Garbutt Construction Co., SBA No. SIZ-5083.

How Does the SBA Determine the Principal Place of Business  Hubzone Requirements? The Small Business Act regulations require that, with the exception of certain specified entities, qualified small business concerns have a principal office located in a Government HUBZone.  See 15 USC 632(p)(5){A)(i)(I)(aa); 13 CFR 126.103. Principal office in the HUBZone program means the location where the greatest number of concern’s employees at any one location performs their work.

How Can a Contractor Defend Against HUBZone Fraud Allegations? Allegations of SBA small business fraud or HUBZone certification fraud usually start with a government investigation. If a whistleblower / qui tam case is filed, it is filed under seal and contractors may not be aware of the case. If you are aware, you want to be extra careful not to retaliate against suspected employees or third parties. If you are seeking to defend against alleged fraud or false claims against the government, you want to immediately hire a civil or criminal defense attorney that understands government contracts and small business programs. Do not wait until the federal prosecutors finalize their investigations and proceed with the indictment of a criminal. it could be much more difficult to salvage any damage. Call Watson & Associates’ federal contractor criminal defense attorneys HUBZone Fraud defense lawyers for immediate help.

Find out more about the HUBZone Bidding Price Preference

New SBA Regulations Impacting HUBZone Certified Companies

Contact Our SBA HUBZone Certification Consultants

If you are a HUBZone certified small business and have been accused of government procurement fraud under a specific set aside contract, need help learning how to become certified, or need help meeting employee requirements, or need help getting more access to federal procurement opportunities, call Watson & Associates, LLC SBA HUBZone certification lawyers to schedule a free consultation. Call our SBA compliance lawyers toll-free at 1-866-601-5518.