What is the Mentor-Protégé Program?
Under GSA’s Mentor Protégé Program, mentor companies voluntarily assist protégé firms in growing their business and competing for federal government contracts and subcontracts.
Do all federal agencies have a mentor-protégé program?
No. GSA is one of a dozen or so civilian agencies who have a mentor-protégé program. The Department of Defense has its own Mentor-Protégé Program.
Are there any regulations governing the mentor-protégé program?
Yes. Each agency’s mentor-protégé program is described in their respective agency acquisition regulations. GSA’s Program can be found in the General Services Acquisition Regulation (GSAR) subpart 519.70: https://www.acquisition.gov/?q=/browse/gsam/519/519Small. Both prospective mentors and proteges need to read the GSAR to understand the eligibility requirements, application process and required reports.
How do I apply to GSA’s Mentor Protégé Program?
Remember, the Mentor Protégé Program is voluntary. You must first find a mentor. Mentors choose protégés and share its resources and knowledge with protégé firms. Most of the protégé firms begin as suppliers or subcontractors to mentor companies. After successfully supporting the mentor, these companies often informally mentor protégé companies. These informal agreements often turn into formal mentor-protégé agreements.
Once a mentor is found and willing to enter into a formal agreement, the mentor-protégé team formally applies to enter GSA’s Program.
How do I find a mentor?
GSA prepared guidance on how to find a mentor. Small businesses are encouraged to follow the advice in beginning the process of seeking out potential subcontracting opportunities with prospective mentors. Many companies informally mentor the small businesses they’ve successfully worked with in the past. Take advantage of the advice mentors are willing to share.
I am a start-up business who needs assistance in getting off the ground. Is the mentor-protégé program right for me?
Probably not. However, if you are an 8(a) company, the Small Business Administration (SBA) is responsible for 8(a) mentor protégé program which is part of its 8(a) Business Development be sure to check out other “mentoring” resources available free of charge such as the SBA (www.sba.gov) and the Procurement Technical Assistance Centers (http://www.aptac-us.org/contracting-assistance/).
Do all mentors have to be large businesses?
No. Some of the graduates from GSA’s Mentor-Protégé Program go on to mentor firms themselves. However, like all mentors, small businesses must have the capability to be able to mentor protégé firms
What types of assistance can a mentor provide to a protégé?
GSA mentors provide protégé assistance in applying for GSA Schedule contracts or increasing sales under protégé Schedule contracts. Mentors also provide assistance to proteges in building infrastructure such as:
- Financial management
- Organizational management;
- Overall business management/planning
Direct support can also include:
- Engineering and other technical assistance
- Rent-free use of facilities and/or equipment
- Temporary assignment of personnel to the protégé for purpose of training.
I’ve found a mentor. What do I do now?
Take the following steps:
- Read GSAR 519.70 and understand the requirements of the program (mentor and protégé)
- Prepare the needs assessment
- Identify your needs. What assistance are you seeking from the mentor?
- The mentor identifies the assistance they will provide.
- Develop specific tasks and identify milestones for the completion of those tasks
- Determine the length of time for the agreement. This is dependent upon the needs assessment. Most of GSA’s agreements are for a period of three years.
- Complete the application form (GSA Form 3695)
- Attach a signed copy of the agreement between both parties. The needs assessment, complete with milestones, can be incorporated into the agreement.
- Send the application package to the GSA Mentor Program Manager at email@example.com
What makes a successful mentor protégé agreement?
Each agreement is based upon the needs of the protégé and the assistance the mentor is willing to provide. Be specific in the needs assessment, the tasks to be performed and include milestones for the tasks. GSA’s most successful agreements are specific and include dates.
Can I protest the selection of a protégé by a mentor firm?
No. Mentor firms are solely responsible for selecting protégé firms (GSAR 519.7008).
Are there any reporting requirements?
Yes. GSA requires the mentor-protégé to submit semi-annual reports on the progress made to date (GSAR 519.7015). Subcontract and prime contract awards received by the protégé must be included in the semi-annual report
What is the purpose of these reports?
The purpose of the reports is twofold:
- Ensures both mentor and protégé are meeting regularly to review the agreement and progress gained.
- GSA is required to report annually to the SBA. The reports include types of assistance mentors provide and the prime and subcontracts received by the protégé. The SBA takes the information and reports to Congress.
What if the agreement doesn’t work out, what do we do?
While rare, sometimes this happens. The parties can agree to terminate the agreement. Follow the requirements at GSAR 519.7010 and be sure to notify the GSA Mentor Protégé Program Manager as required by GSAR 519.7015.