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Misunderstanding and inactivity. Factors costing VA dollars and Veteran businesses opportunity?

Posted By Guy Timberlake, The American Small Business Coalition, LLC, Monday, November 25, 2013

There are hundreds and likely thousands of companies with active GSA Schedules that will never see an order placed against them. Most of these will be terminated by GSA due to these companies not meeting the dollars vs. time requirement, while others will be "let go" by the companies that made the effort to acquire that hunting license in the first place.

One thing is for certain, someone is losing money when this happens.

In fact, it's likely both the awarding agency and the award recipient lose in this situation. If the company paid someone to process the submission and negotiate the offer on their behalf, they lose actual dollars and probably some staff time. If they did it in-house, there may have been some lost dollars but the impact is probably realized as valuable resource time that could have been allocated to other more productive pursuits. On the other side, GSA has administrative burdens associated with all contracts and contract vehicles. They realize a cost of doing business whether transactions occur on the contracts, or not.

That cost of doing business is the key to this piece.

My friend Roger Campos who leads the Minority Business Round Table (MBRT), recently hosted one of his luncheons that featured Jan Frye, Chief Acquisition Officer at Department of Veterans Affairs. Overall Mr. Frye provided substantive and useful information during his presentation, but what stuck with me the most was a commentary related to the Center for Verification and Evaluation (CVE), the entity responsible for verifying Service-Disabled Veteran-Owned Small Businesses (SDVOSB) and Veteran-Owned Small Businesses (VOSB) who want to participate in the VA’s Veterans First Contracting Program.

Let me repeat.

The Center for Verification and Evaluation (CVE) is the entity responsible for verifying Service-Disabled Veteran-Owned Small Businesses (SDVOSB) and Veteran-Owned Small Businesses (VOSB) who want to participate in the VA’s Veterans First Contracting Program.

Why so dramatic?

The point made by Mr. Frye that resonated with me is the fact that there are hundreds, actually thousands of VOSB and SDVOSB companies registered with CVE that have no intention of pursuing business with the VA. Like GSA's administrative costs for zero-dollar schedules that are eventually cancelled, these verifications cost VA money to administer. As a result, valuable resources (time and money) that could be used to help Veterans or Veteran-Owned Businesses seeking opportunities at VA, are lost for no good reason. That's not what Mr. Frye said but how I'm summarizing his comments.

This is happening apparently, due to a great misunderstanding by many Veteran and Service-Disabled Veteran-Owned Businesses, and some agencies, too. The misunderstanding is tied to the fact there are two programs for Veteran-owned businesses, one administered by VA, the other by SBA. On that note, here are some of the very good op-ed's on the subject, written by my friend, Attorney Steven Koprince, in his SmallGovCon blog:

So my question to agencies who have adopted or are considering adopting regulations to require companies to be verified by CVE for their non-VA set-asides is, why not just use the SBA program?

Actually, VA should quickly set up a "fee-for-service" offering for agencies that want to leverage CVE verification as a criteria for their non-VA VOSB and SDVOSB procurements. That would put more dollars back in circulation for Veterans and Veteran-businesses at VA, right?

For VOSB and SDVOSB companies not pursuing VA business, are you potentially diminishing benefit to yourselves and/or your fellow Veterans by having VA verify you for non-VA business opportunities?


The Chief Visionary

"The person who says it cannot be done should not interrupt the person doing it."

Tags:  CVE  differences  programs  SBA  SDVOSB  VA  VeteransFirst 

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Comments on this post...

David Phillips says...
Posted Wednesday, November 27, 2013
Guy, I am in complete agreement with you. In fact, I think the issue goes even deeper.... First of all, many agencies have a SDVOSB set-aside program but no VOSB program. Also, the VA has what they call a Veterans First program but outside of rhetoric, I cannot find what the program does. Additionally, to exacerbate the overall program, there are issues with the veteran acquisition program. As pointed out by Reps. Darrell Issa (R-Calif.) and Tammy Duckworth (D-Ill.) , the program needs to look very closely at is evaluation criteria and definition of a SDVOSB. The complete article can be read on the Maranatha & Associates, Inc. Facebook page.
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Jaime Gracia says...
Posted Monday, December 02, 2013
I would like the certification process to go away completely at VA. I wrote a blog post about this issue recently:

This problem could be solved if VA went back to the process of allowing certification upon award, as they had previously. Unfortunately, you now must be a VetBiz registered SDVOSB to have any chance at VA business.

VOSB is effectively useless. Have you seen any VOSB set-asides? Rarely. Further, COs at VA are under enormous pressure to contract with SDVOSB as part of the "Vets First" program, even if no SDVOSB were pre-qualified as eligible to do the work. So you see a lot of fraud and waste as SDVOSB are getting contracts they have no business winning.

Is making ALL SDVOSB certify an answer? With streamlined processes at SBA, possibly. However, a firm needs to be in VetBiz first to have any chance at wining business, so I do not understand this thinking that they should be setup like GSA Schedules, in that you get kicked out if you do not win business or pay fees. Vets are forced into this process.

I am a vocal critic of Jan Frye, as I think this CVE process is broken, and further evidence at his desire for "empire building". The VA should get out of the certification business, and use the $40+ million on these processes towards their embarrassing backlog of claims. That is their mission, not certifications.
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