Democrats Join Forces to Improve Federal Contracting for Veteran Small Business Owners
Washington, D.C.— This week, two House subcommittees held a hearing focused on improving the certification process for Service Disabled Veteran Owned Small Businesses (SDVOSBs). To crackdown on current waste, fraud and abuse, Democrats of the House Small Business Subcommittee on Investigations, Oversight, and Regulations and the Committee on Veterans’ Affairs Subcommittee on Oversight and Investigations argued in favor of streamlining the SDVOSB certification process. Transferring current certification tasks of the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) to the Small Business Administration (SBA), they argued, would better serve America’s veteran-owned small firms.
“Veterans have put their lives on the line to defend the ideals of America, and we owe them tremendous gratitude,” said Small Business Subcommittee Ranking Member Rep. Alma Adams (D-NC). “We must uplift our veterans by streamlining our support programs for efficiency and implementing safeguards that prevent bad actors from defrauding these federal programs. Entrepreneurship has long been a viable career path for many veterans, and we must ensure they have the support they need to start and grow their businesses.”
To encourage participation of SDVOSBs in the federal contracting marketplace, Congress established a goal of awarding no less than 3 percent of all federal prime and subcontract awards to these businesses. Recent years have indicated that demand for these contracts is high, with nearly $18 billion awarded through over 170,000 SDVOSB contracts in 2017. Currently, both SBA and the VA have different structures for certifying SDVOSBs, a process that has fueled backlog, confusion and fraud. In this week’s hearing, Democrats joined representatives from SBA and the VA to encourage moving the VA’s verification and certification responsibilities to SBA.
“It makes sense that contracts awarded through the VA be directed to Service Disabled Veteran Owned Small Businesses whenever possible,” said Veterans’ Affairs Subcommittee Ranking Member Rep. Annie Kuster (D-NH). “It’s unfortunate that some businesses seek to take advantage of programs meant to benefit our veterans. This week’s hearing was an opportunity to discuss how we strike the right balance that safe guards these programs and streamlines them for the men and women who have served and sacrificed for our nation.”
“Veteran small business owners who are members of The American Legion have described the increased stress and difficultly of having to essentially manage two certification processes,” said Davy Leghorn, the Assistant Director National Veterans Employment and Education Division at The American Legion. “While some VOSB owners felt confident in self-certification, increasingly, agencies across the federal government now ask if they are CVE certified. As such, veterans have expressed a need to apply for both certifications rather than only self-certifying for fear of not being awarded contracts.”
Recognizing the pivotal role that SDVOSBs play in fostering entrepreneurship in America, Democrats are focused on ensuring that veterans have the proper tools to compete for, and to win government contracts.