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By Nick Wakeman

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SBA lifts MicroTech suspension

Is MicroTech's nightmare over? Kind of.

The company is back at work now that the Small Business Administration has lifted its suspension, but CEO Tony Jimenez isn’t. Part of the deal to let MicroTech get back to selling goods and services to the government is that Jimenez must take a 30-day suspension from his own company.

The company also faces the task of rebuilding its reputation.

In the administrative agreement with SBA, MicroTech admits no wrongdoing, and SBA doesn't exactly say they are guilty of anything either.

Both SBA and MicroTech agree that the company's application in 2005 to join the 8(a) program didn’t accurately describe the relationship between MicroTech, MicroLink and GovWare. The companies shared investors, which is apparently what bothered SBA.

Repeatedly in the agreement, MicroTech is quoted as affirming that its connection with those two companies didn't run afoul of any SBA regulations. And SBA seems to agree.

It is prohibiting MicroTech from entering into mentor-protégé agreements, teaming agreements and joint ventures with 8(a) companies while the agreement is in place.

The agreement is for three years but will be reviewed annually.

The company also will have to create an ethics program and hire an outside company to evaluate the program.

While I haven’t talked to Jimenez since the debarment in December, we talked in the immediate aftermath of a Washington Post series of stories exploring how the company used small business programs to grow. In our conversations, he has been adamant that neither he nor his company has done anything wrong.

I’ve questioned the Washington Post’s pursuit of Jimenez, and how the SBA process suspends a company and threatens its viability as a business without much due process. That still is a bit puzzling to me, but that's how the system works.

The whole thing still doesn't make sense to me. Where's the smoking gun? Where's the corruption? Let me know what I've missed.

Posted by Nick Wakeman on Jan 30, 2014 at 2:10 PM


Reader Comments

Tue, Feb 4, 2014

Nine years ago MicroTech hired a company called Sourcetec (went out of business) to help with their 8(a) application and for eight years MicroTech did everything required to be a great 8(a) program. Fact is, they never had any problems with anyone in Government until the Washington Post decided to target them. When the Post article hit SBA took exception as did anyone else mentioned, and they started digging and all they found were some inaccurate items in the file that were signed by a consultant, not Jimenez. But that didn’t matter to them and they bounced MicroTech anyway. Since then SBA has tried to starve MicroTech out by taking more than a 40 days to come up with a meaningful agreement (GTSI’s agreement was done in 15 days). This is old news now and it looks like the witch-hunt is over and MicroTech may actually survive. My question is who will be O’Harrow and the Post’s next target and which branch of the Government will the Post use as their enforcement arm? This is not freedom of the press; this is abuse of power and shame on the Government for not standing up to the Post and O’Harrow!

Fri, Jan 31, 2014 Carramba Lady No. Va.

Another example of weak-kneed regulation of a continually troubled program. We can only guess why there was no criminal information or referral to the United States Attorney for seeming untruths in application for the cert. and violations of permissible relationships.. The wrong seems to be not "being clear" as opposed to "violations of law." (That is the current M.O., on a much larger scale of the White House in its many sins of omission and distancing itself from r responsibility and culpability for this or that.) And there was apparent, to some, some withholding of info that impeded a federal investigation, if not at this point by the FBI. Industry symps may cry foul because the Post, in a rare attempt at investigative journalism, was poking around in a smelly corner of govcon, but it was well justified. Unclear why legit news organizations did not lock onto this story, which is probably duplicated many thousand times.

Fri, Jan 31, 2014 Jaime Gracia Washington, D.C.

Without a full investigation, how would we know? So essentially a slap on the wrist, as expected. This is a great message by the SBA, that ethical lapses and enough circumstantial evidence of apparent fraud that warrants a full accounting can be met with a terse letter, mandatory training, and some pretend oversight.

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