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e-CFR data is current as of October 22, 2020

Title 13Chapter IPart 131 → §131.630


Title 13: Business Credit and Assistance
PART 131—WOMEN'S BUSINESS CENTER PROGRAM


§131.630   Suspension, termination, and non-renewal.

(a) General. After entering into a cooperative agreement with a recipient organization, the AA/OWBO may take, as appropriate, any of the following enforcement actions based upon one or more of the circumstances set forth in paragraph (b) of this section:

(1) Suspension. (i) The AA/OWBO may suspend a cooperative agreement with a recipient organization at any point. The decision to suspend a cooperative agreement with a recipient organization is effective immediately as of the date of the notice of suspension. The period of suspension will begin on the date of the notice of suspension and will last no longer than six months. At the end of the period of suspension, or at any point during that period, the AA/OWBO will either reinstate the cooperative agreement or commence an action for termination or non-renewal.

(ii) The notice of suspension will recommend that the recipient organization cease work on the WBC project immediately. The AA/OWBO is under no obligation to reimburse any expenses incurred by a recipient organization while its cooperative agreement is under suspension. Where the AA/OWBO decides to lift a suspension and reinstate a recipient organization's cooperative agreement, the Agency may, at its discretion, choose to make funds available to reimburse a recipient organization for some or all of the expenses it incurred in furtherance of project objectives during the period of suspension. However, there is no guarantee that the Agency will elect to accept such expenses and recipient organizations incurring expenses while under suspension do so at their own risk.

(2) Termination. (i) The AA/OWBO may terminate a cooperative agreement with a recipient organization at any point. A decision to terminate a cooperative agreement is effective immediately as of the date of the notice of termination. A recipient organization may not incur further obligations under the cooperative agreement after the date of termination unless it has been expressly authorized to do so in the notice of termination.

(ii) Funds remaining under the cooperative agreement may be made available by the AA/OWBO to satisfy financial obligations properly incurred by the recipient organization prior to the date of termination. Award funds will not be available for obligations incurred subsequent to the effective date of termination unless expressly authorized under the notice of termination. A recipient organization that has had its cooperative agreement terminated will have 90 days to submit final closeout documents as instructed by the SBA.

(3) Non-renewal. (i) The AA/OWBO may elect not to renew a cooperative agreement with a recipient organization at any point. In undertaking a non-renewal action, the SBA may either decline to accept or consider any application for renewal the organization submits, or the agency may decline to exercise any option years remaining under the cooperative agreement. A recipient organization that has had its cooperative agreement non-renewed may continue to conduct project activities and incur allowable expenses until the end of the current budget period.

(ii) Funds remaining under a non-renewed cooperative agreement may be utilized to satisfy financial obligations the recipient organization properly incurred prior to the end of the budget period. Award funds will not be available for obligations incurred subsequent to the end of the current budget period. A recipient organization that has had its cooperative agreement non-renewed will have until the end of the current budget period or 120 days, whichever is longer, to conclude its operations and submit closeout documents as instructed by the SBA.

(b) Material non-compliance. The AA/OWBO may suspend, terminate, or not renew a cooperative agreement, in whole or in part, with a recipient organization for material non-compliance (frequently referred to as for cause). Material non-compliance may include, but is not limited to, the following:

(1) Non-performance;

(2) Poor performance;

(3) Unwillingness or inability to implement changes to improve performance;

(4) Willful or material failure to comply with the terms and conditions of the cooperative agreement, including relevant Office of Management and Budget circulars;

(5) Conduct reflecting a lack of business integrity or honesty on the part of the recipient organization, the WBC Program Director, or other significant employee(s), which has not been properly addressed;

(6) A conflict of interest on the part of the recipient organization, the WBC Program Director, or other significant employees causing real or perceived detriment to a small business concern, a contractor, the WBC, or the SBA;

(7) Improper management or use of Federal funds;

(8) Failure of a WBC to consent to audits or examinations, or to maintain required documents or records;

(9) Failure to implement recommendations from the audits or examinations within 30 days of their receipt;

(10) Failure of the WBC Program Director to work at the WBC on a 100 percent full-time basis on the WBC project;

(11) Failure to promptly suspend or terminate the employment of a WBC Program Director, or other significant employee, upon receipt of knowledge or written information by the recipient organization and/or the SBA indicating that such individual has engaged in conduct, which may result or has resulted in a criminal conviction or civil judgment which would cause the public to question the WBC's integrity. In making the decision to suspend or terminate such an employee, the recipient organization must consider such factors as the magnitude and repetitiveness of the harm caused and the remoteness in time of the behavior underlying any conviction or judgment;

(12) Failure to maintain adequate client service facilities or service hours;

(13) Fraud, waste, abuse, mismanagement or criminal activity on the part of the recipient organization and/or its staff/employees; or

(14) Any other action that the AA/OWBO believes materially and adversely affects the operation or integrity of a WBC or the WBC program.

(c) Procedures. The same procedures will apply regardless of whether a cooperative agreement with a recipient organization is being suspended, terminated, or non-renewed by the SBA.

(1) Taking action. When the AA/OWBO has reason to believe there is cause to suspend, terminate, or non-renew a cooperative agreement with a recipient organization (either based on its own knowledge or upon information provided to it by other parties), the AA/OWBO may undertake such an enforcement action by issuing a written notice of suspension, termination, or non-renewal to the recipient organization.

(2) Notice requirements. Each notice of suspension, termination, or non-renewal will set forth the specific facts and reasons for the AA/OWBO decision and will include reference to the appropriate legal authority. The notice will also advise the recipient organization that it has the right to request an administrative review of the decision to suspend, terminate, or non-renew its cooperative agreement in accordance with the procedures set forth in paragraph (d) of this section. The notice will be transmitted to the recipient organization on the same date it is issued by both U.S. Mail and facsimile or as an email attachment.

(3) Relationship to government-wide suspension and debarment. A decision by the AA/OWBO to suspend, terminate, or non-renew a WBC cooperative agreement does not constitute a nonprocurement suspension or debarment of a recipient organization under Executive Order 12549 and SBA's implementing regulations (2 CFR part 2700). However, a decision by the AA/OWBO to undertake a suspension, termination, or non-renewal enforcement action with regard to a particular WBC cooperative agreement does not preclude or preempt the Agency from also taking action to suspend or debar a recipient organization for purposes of all Federal procurement and/or nonprocurement opportunities.

(d) Administrative review. Any recipient organization that has had its cooperative agreement suspended, terminated, or non-renewed has the right to request an administrative review of the AA/OWBO's enforcement action. Administrative review of WBC enforcement actions will be conducted by the AA/OED.

(1) Format. There is no prescribed format for a request for administrative review of an SBA enforcement action. While a recipient organization has the right to retain legal counsel to represent its interests in connection with an administrative review, it is under no obligation to do so. Formal briefs and other technical forms of pleading are not required. However, a request for administrative review of an SBA enforcement action must be in writing, should be concise and logically arranged, and must at a minimum include the following information:

(i) Name and address of the recipient organization;

(ii) Identification of the relevant SBA office/program (i.e., OWBO/WBC Program);

(iii) Cooperative agreement number;

(iv) Copy of the notice of suspension, termination, or non-renewal;

(v) Statement regarding why the recipient organization believes the SBA's actions were arbitrary, capricious, an abuse of discretion, and/or otherwise not in accordance with the law;

(vi) Identification of the specific relief being sought (e.g., lifting of the suspension);

(vii) Statement as to whether the recipient organization is requesting a hearing and, if so, the reasons why it believes a hearing is necessary; and

(viii) Copies of any documents or other evidence the recipient organization believes support its position.

(2) Service. Any recipient organization requesting administrative review of an SBA enforcement action must submit copies of its request (including any attachments) to all of the following parties:

(i) Associate Administrator for the Office of Entrepreneurial Development, U.S. Small Business Administration;

(ii) Assistant Administrator for the Office of Women's Business Ownership U.S. Small Business Administration;

(iii) Associate General Counsel for Procurement Law, U.S. Small Business Administration.

(e) Timeliness. (i) In order to be considered timely, the AA/OED must receive a recipient organization's request for administrative review within 30 days of the date of the notice of suspension, termination, or non-renewal. Any request for administrative review received by the AA/OED more than 30 days after the date of the notice of suspension, termination, or non-renewal will be considered untimely and will automatically be rejected without being considered.

(ii) In addition, if the AA/OED does not receive a request for administrative review within the 30-day deadline, then the decision by the AA/OWBO to suspend, terminate, or non-renew a recipient organization's cooperative agreement will automatically become the final Agency decision on the matter.

(f) Standard of review. In order to have the suspension, termination, or non-renewal of a cooperative agreement reversed on administrative review, a recipient organization must successfully demonstrate that the SBA enforcement action was arbitrary, capricious, an abuse of discretion, and/or otherwise not in accordance with the law.

(g) Conduct of the proceeding. (1) Each party must serve the opposing party with copies of all requests, arguments, evidence, and any other filings it submits pursuant to the administrative review. Within 30 days of the AA/OED receiving a request for administrative review, the AA/OED must also receive the SBA's arguments and evidence in defense of its decision to suspend, terminate, or non-renew a recipient organization's cooperative agreement. If the SBA fails to provide its arguments and evidence in a timely manner, the administrative review will be conducted solely on the basis of the information provided by the recipient organization.

(2) After receiving the SBA's response to the request for administrative review or the passage of the 30-day deadline for filing such a response, the AA/OED will take one or more of the following actions, as applicable:

(i) Notify the parties whether she/he has decided to grant a request for a hearing;

(ii) Direct the parties to submit further arguments and/or evidence on any issues which she/he believes require clarification; and/or

(iii) Notify the parties that she/he has declared the record to be closed and therefore she/he will refuse to admit any further evidence or argument.

(3) The AA/OED will only grant a request for a hearing if she/he concludes that there is a genuine dispute as to a material fact that cannot be resolved except by the taking of testimony and the confrontation of witnesses. If the AA/OED grants a request for a hearing, she/he will set the time and place for the hearing, determine whether the hearing will be conducted in person or via telephone, and identify which witnesses will be permitted to give testimony.

(4) Within 10 calendar days of declaring the record to be closed, the AA/OED will provide all parties with a copy of her/his written decision on the merits of the administrative review.

(h) Evidence. The recipient organization and the SBA each have the right to submit whatever evidence they believe is relevant to the matter in dispute. No form of discovery will be permitted unless a party has made a substantial showing, based upon credible evidence and not mere allegation that the other party has acted in bad faith or engaged in improper behavior.

(i) Decision. (1) The decision of the AA/OED will be effective immediately as of the date it is issued. The decision of the AA/OED will represent the final Agency decision on all matters in dispute on administrative review. No further relief may be sought from or granted by the Agency. If the AA/OED determines that the SBA's decision to suspend, terminate, or non-renew a cooperative agreement was arbitrary, capricious, an abuse of discretion, and/or otherwise not in accordance with the law, she/he will reverse the Agency's enforcement action and direct the SBA to reinstate the recipient organization's cooperative agreement.

(2) Where an enforcement action has been reversed on administrative review, the SBA will have no more than 10 calendar days to implement the AA/OED's decision. However, to the extent permitted under the applicable Office of Management and Budget circulars, the SBA reserves the right to impose such special conditions in the recipient organization's cooperative agreement as it deems necessary to protect the government's interests.

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