Watson & Associates, LLC HUBZone certification lawyers provide legal advice and counsel to small businesses new to the program and to experience government contractors seeking legal support or HUBZone fraud defense representation. Our goal is to keep HUBZone-certified companies on track while avoiding some of the most costly legal mistakes in the program. 

SBA HUBZone Certification Application Consultants lawyersAlthough 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.

For example, SBA Program requirements require that 35% of a small business’s employees live in a HUB Zone. For construction or landscaping industries, the rule may be applied differently. Another common issue could be whether your subcontractor meets the “similarly situated” small business requirements.

At Watson & Associates, LLC, our Government attorneys and SBA HUBZone certification consultants help with various government contract small business issues on a daily basis with overcoming legal hurdles of how to get certified.

SBA HUBZone Certification Consultants 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 and subcontracting matters, Joint Venture help. Small Business contract novations,  litigation and appeals (ASBCA and CBCA)(COFC and Federal Circuit), Certificate of Competency and contractor responsibility matters.

SBA HUBZone Requirements

 SBA Historically underutilized businesses must meet the statutory certified 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.

When you learn how to become certified, then you still have to make sure that you consistently meet the legal requirements. See HUBZone Map.  Other small businesses also misunderstand the bidding thresholds for HUB Zone certified companies and sometimes mix up the requirements for normal annual SBA certification requirements.

  • If the information submitted on your application is false, there could be criminal penalties assessed if your company gets a contract with the federal government.
  • Having one of our HUBZone consultants guide you through the application process minimizes the chance of getting denied and can help to avoid the dangerous landmines that await you.
  • Our. HUBZone lawyers help business owners to address criminal investigation and liability for alleged fraud in the program.

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 Charge 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?

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 HUBZone Fraud. These are areas where Watson’s government contract fraud defense attorneys can help.

What Should You Do If You See HUBZone fraud?

 If you become aware of a company committing fraud in the SBA HUBZone Program, or committing some measure of fraud against the federal government, you can file a qui tam lawsuit. Unfortunately, you would have to hire an attorney that handles government contract fraud cases. If you file a qui tam/whistleblower case, it will be on behalf of the government. Some cases allow 15 -20 % of recovery if the government intervenes and collects fines. At Watson & Associates, our Whistleblower Qui Tam attorneys can help you in these types of cases. Speak to Theodore Watson by calling toll-free at 1-866-601-5518.

How Can a Contractor Defend Against HUBZone Fraud Allegations?

Allegations of SBA fraud or HUBZone 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 HUBZone Fraud defense lawyers for immediate help.

Filing HUBZone Small Business Bid Protests

Sometimes, when the government announces a contract award to a HUBZone small business concern, there may be grounds to challenge the award dues to the awardee’s failure to comply with the SBA’s requirements. At Watson & Associates, our bid protest lawyers will assist with filing or defending HUBZone status protests.

 HUBZone Benefits & FAQs

What is a HUBZone Small Business?

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.

Can you appeal to SBA OHA SBA decisions regarding Government HUB Zone status and qualifications?

13 CFR 134.102 does not give SBA OHA jurisdiction to hear over HUBZone small business status protests, nor does OHA have the authority to directly overturn a government contract award decision. See Size Appeal of Browning Construction Co., SBA No. SIZ-4526 (2002) (concluding that OHA’s jurisdiction “is limited and does not include small business protests or appeals from the SBA’s determinations.”)

Does my 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 HUB Zone.  See 15 USC 632(p)(5){A)(i)(I)(aa); 13 CFR 126.103. Principal office means the location where the greatest number of concern’s employees at any one location performs their work.

How Does SBA Look at the HUBZone Employee Requirements?

The SBA looks at HUBZone employee requirements for individuals employed on a full-time, part-time, or other basis, so long as that individual works a minimum of 40 hours during the four-week period immediately prior to the relevant date of review, which is either the date the concern submits its HUBZone application to SBA or the date of recertification.  The Area Office will also look at your company’s payroll record. When deciding whether someone is an employee, SBA looks at the totality of circumstances, including criteria used by the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) for Federal income tax purposes and the factors set forth in SBA’s Size Policy Statement No. 1 (51 FR 6099, February 20, 1986). To meet the HUBZone employee requirements, the regulations allow the SBA to take the totality of the circumstances approach. However, understanding the underlying rules of meeting the statutory requirements can save tens of thousands in unnecessary litigation.

Find out more about the Bidding Price Preference

New SBA Regulations Impacting HUBZone Certified Companies

SBA Size Standards & Small Business Size Protest Litigation Help

SBA Socially and Economically Disadvantaged Individuals 13 CFR 124.104

Contact Our SBA HUBZone Certification Consultants

If you are certified small business owners and have been accused of government procurement fraud under the historically underutilized business programs, 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.