SBA ends suspension of MicroTech CEO after he agrees to ethics and compliance training

April 1

The Small Business Administration will allow MicroTechnologies chief executive Anthony R. Jimenez to resume control of the firm in May, five months after he was barred from contracting for allegedly providing false information to the agency, according to a document released Tuesday.

In a Monday agreement he signed to lift the suspension, Jimenez acknowledged that errors were made in MicroTech’s application for an SBA program and promised to undergo ethics and compliance training. As part of the agreement, Jimenez will spend an additional six weeks excluded from day-to-day control of the company. He will be eligible to return to the helm on May 18.

The SBA’s action opens the way for Jimenez to reenter the lucrative federal technology market, in which the Tysons Corner-based MicroTech made its mark over the past decade as one of the fastest-growing small contractors in memory. Since it was formed in 2004, Jimenez’s firm has secured government contracts with a total value of $1.4 billion, a third of that from set-aside deals, federal records show.

In the agreement, Jimenez acknowledged that MicroTech’s application for entrance into the SBA’s 8(a) program for small, disadvantaged firms contained incorrect information about his relationship with two investors and their firm. Acceptance into the 8(a) program in 2005 enabled MicroTech to receive certain contracts without competition. The SBA said the inaccurate application hampered efforts to assess the firm.

“SBA relies on the submission of applicants to determine eligibility for the program. Submission of false and misleading information impairs SBA’s ability to accurately and reasonably determine a firm’s eligibility,” the agreement said. “SBA and Mr. Jimenez now agree that the responses were not accurate.”

Jimenez also conceded that MicroTech did not provide documentation about another federal contractor that he and his two investors launched around the same time, a lapse that further “prevented SBA from properly evaluating MicroTech’s eligibility for the program,” the agreement stated.

In a statement posted on the company’s Web site, MicroTech said the “agreement reaffirms that Mr Jimenez and MicroTech will not be Debarred.”

“We are a stronger team because of the internal and external assessments of our programs and policies,” the statement said. “One of the refinements we have incorporated is the expansion of our Corporate Code of Conduct and Ethics Program to now encompass our consultants.”

The SBA on Dec. 20 blocked Jimenez and MicroTech from receiving new contracts, saying the agency had information that Jimenez had submitted “false and misleading statements” to receive contracts reserved for disadvantaged entrepreneurs. The statements included one that “appears to be a complete fabrication” to hide the extensive role of the investors, according to the SBA notice to the firm. In Monday’s agreement, Jimenez and the SBA said only that “the responses were not accurate,” and Jimenez said the investors had “no role” in running his firm.

The Dec. 20 letter was the first step in a civil process aimed not at punishing wrongdoing but at protecting the government from future harm, the agency said.

One month later, the SBA lifted the ban on MicroTech after Jimenez agreed to give up day-to-day control for at least 30 days. In that agreement, the firm acknowledged the inaccuracies in the 8(a) application but blamed the errors on a MicroTech consultant hired to advise Jimenez. The consultant later told The Washington Post that Jimenez provided all the material questioned by the agency.

In its agreement, MicroTech also agreed to create an “ethics and compliance program” for new employees and to hire an independent party to evaluate the program. Jimenez will be required to review and sign the company’s code of ethics and to participate in compliance training.

The SBA’s action followed Post stories examining how MicroTech was able to receive more than $1 billion in federal contracts over nearly a decade and still claim to meet SBA requirements for small and disadvantaged businesses.

The revelations spurred investigations by House lawmakers and the SBA and General Services Administration inspector generals. Those examinations are continuing.

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