SBA lifts ban on small business contractor after chief executive temporarily steps aside

Evy Mages/For The Washington Post - Microtech’s CEO Anthony Jimenez poses in his office in this 2011 photo. The Small Business Administration lifted a ban on the small business contractor after Jimenez temporarily gave up control.

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The Small Business Administration has lifted a contracting ban on MicroTechnologies LLC after the firm’s chief executive agreed to give up day-to-day control while authorities continue to investigate allegations that he provided false information about its ownership and operations.

The SBA blocked the Tysons Corner, Va.-based MicroTech from receiving new contracts on Dec. 20, saying the agency had information that chief executive Anthony R. Jimenez had submitted “false and misleading statements” to receive contracts reserved for disadvantaged entrepreneurs.

ASHLAND, MA - APRIL 15: J.P. Norden stands on the pavement as he's greeted by students from Ashland High School while walking in the 1st Annual Legs for Life Walk on April 15, 2014 in Ashland, Ma. The fund raising walk was put together by the Norden family, whose two sons, J.P. and Paul Norden lost their right legs during the Boston Marathon bombing in 2013. The walk took place on the exact Boston Marathon route on the first anniversary of the Boston Marathon bombing. (Photo by Ricky Carioti/The Washington Post)

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In an administrative agreement announced Wednesday, Micro­Tech acknowledged that Jimenez’s application to the SBA in 2005 for preferential treatment contained inaccurate information. The application did not accurately describe the relationship between MicroTech and two others firms, MicroLink and GovWare. The three firms had investors in common.

MicroTech blamed the inaccurate statements on a consultant hired to help Jimenez gain entrance into the SBA’s 8(a) program for disadvantaged contractors, according to a copy of the agreement provided by the SBA.

MicroTech did not respond to requests for comment.

The agreement specifies that Jimenez “will be excluded from participating in the day-to-day management of MicroTech for a period of 30 calender days.” He will be replaced by Paul Price, a longtime MicroTech executive, the agreement said.

MicroTech also agreed to create an “ethics and compliance program” that includes training for new employees and to hire an independent party to evaluate the program.

“SBA has to believe that the firm is presently responsible — possessing the present capability, tenacity, integrity, and perseverance to adequately meet the government’s needs in any contract,” SBA spokesman Terry Sutherland said.

At the time of its suspension, MicroTech was considered one of the government's most successful small technology contractors, with more than $1.4 billion in deals since its founding in 2004, contracting documents show. By 2012, it had almost 400 employees.

The suspensions of both MicroTech and Jimenez were triggered when the SBA began a process known as “debarment” from future contracts.

That actions followed stories in The Washington Post that examined how MicroTech was able to become so large and still claim to meet SBA requirements for small and disadvantaged businesses.

The Post stories reported that Jimenez made claims that appeared to be inconsistent with internal company documents, government records, and interviews with current and former employees.

The stories also detailed how the Department of Veterans Affairs took credit for awarding hundreds of millions of dollars in work to a small business, MicroTech, when more than 90 percent of the money went to large companies. MicroTech said that it has followed all federal rules.

The agreement between the SBA and MicroTech also stated that the firm failed to provide the agency with ownership documents about GovWare that “deprived SBA of the ability to provide meaningful oversight.”

Sutherland said the agreement has no bearing on Jimenez’s ongoing debarment review, which is considering whether Jimenez should receive a long-term ban from government contracting.

Inspectors general at the SBA and General Services Administration have ongoing investigations of MicroTech’s contracting activity. The House Small Business and Veterans Affairs committees also are continuing their investigations, officials said.

Depending on the outcome of those efforts, the agreement with MicroTech could be altered, Sutherland said. “The agreement may or may not be the final decision in this case depending upon what is or is not discovered,” he said.

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