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supreme

By Debbie Gregory.

The Supreme Court came down on the side of veteran business owners by finding that the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) failed to comply with a law aimed at increasing the number of federal contracts awarded to veteran owned small businesses.

The justices sided with Kingdomware Technologies Inc., a service disabled veteran-owned contractor based in Maryland that said it should have been considered to provide services for a VA medical center.

The issue before the Court was whether a federal law which provides that, as long as certain conditions are met, the Department of Veterans Affairs “shall award” contracts to small businesses owned by veterans applies every time the department awards contracts.  The federal government had argued that the rule left some room for discretion, but on June 16th, the Court rejected that argument.  “Shall,” the Court emphasized, was meant as a command, not an option.

The case dates back to 2012, when the VA awarded a contract for an emergency notification system that would send information to its employees, to a company that was not owned by a veteran. Kingdomware, which is owned by a U.S. Army veteran who was permanently disabled from an injury that he suffered while serving in 1991’s Operation Desert Storm, challenged the award. Kingdomware provides web, software, and technology solutions to enterprise problems.

Federal law requires the agency to use a bidding process if two or more disabled veteran-owned companies can offer service at a fair and reasonable price. But the VA argued the “rule of two” does not apply when it buys goods and services from vendors that already have contracts with the agency under a system called the Federal Supply Schedule.

Justice Clarence Thomas said the rule applies to all contract determinations.

A federal appeals court had said the VA did not have to follow the rule of two if it otherwise met the goal of awarding between 7 percent and 12 percent of all contracts to companies owned by disabled veterans. But Thomas said meeting annual benchmarks does not allow the VA to ignore a mandatory contracting rule

Veteran-owned small businesses see the ruling as a victory that gives them more opportunities to compete for contracts from the VA which, they would say, is exactly what Congress intended.

vboc

Each year, the U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA) helps more than 200,000 veterans, service-disabled veterans, and National Guard and Reserve service members, and military spouses start and grow their small businesses.   The SBA will be adding six Veterans Business Outreach Centers (VBOC) to the existing 13, bringing the nationwide total to19.

Each VBOC will provide entrepreneurial training, comprehensive business assessment, and mentoring to active duty service members, veterans and service-disabled veterans, National Guard and Reservists, and military spouses interested in starting a small business.

The new VBOCs will be located as follows:

  • Center for Women & Enterprise (CWE), Providence, RI
  • University of Hawaii, Honolulu, HI
  • Georgia Southern University Research & Services Foundation, Statesboro, GA
  • Cochise County Community College District, Sierra Vista, AZ
  • University of Texas at Arlington, Arlington, TX
  • MiraCosta College, Oceanside, CA

Existing VBOCs are located as follows:

  • Veterans Business Outreach Center at Mississippi State University, Starkville, MS
  • Big Sky Economic Development Authority, Billings, MT
  • WBDC Chicago, Chicago, IL
  • Community Business Partnership, Springfield, VA
  • Hampton Roads Veterans Business Outreach Center, Norfolk, VA
  • Veterans Business Outreach Center at Gulf Coast State College, Panama City, FL
  • Veterans Business Outreach Center at Fayetteville State Univ., Fayetteville, NC
  • VetBiz Central, Inc., Flint, MI
  • University of Texas Rio Grande Valley, Edinburg, TX
  • New Mexico Veterans Business Outreach Center, Albuquerque, NM
  • Veterans Business Resource Center, St. Louis, MO
  • Business Impact NW, Seattle, WA
  • Veterans Business Outreach Center – Region IX, Sacramento, CA

VBOC locations were selected based on “Boots to Business” program demand, military installation, and transitioning population data.

VBOCs support transitioning service members as they begin self-employment or entrepreneurship. Part of the VBOC funding is used to cover costs involved in doing outreach to increase participation in the Boots to Business entrepreneurship training program on military installations in the U.S. and its territories.

Veterans business development is available in each state at SBA District Offices and at VBOCs located throughout the U.S.  To learn more about additional opportunities for veterans available through the SBA, visit www.sba.gov/vets.

JDAM

Boeing Co was awarded a $3.2 billion contract modification to a previously awarded contract for Joint Direct Attack Munition (JDAM) tailkits, according to the Pentagon.

The contract for the tailkits, which use GPS to boost accuracy for conventional bombs, was raised from an initial $1.75 billion contract awarded on Oct. 30, 2014, due to warfighter demand and to replenish depleted inventories, the Pentagon said in a statement.

The JDAM tailkit converts existing unguided free-fall bombs into accurate, adverse weather “smart” munitions. With the addition of a new tail section that contains an inertial navigational system and a global positioning system guidance control unit, JDAM improves the accuracy of unguided, general purpose bombs in any weather condition.

Once released from the aircraft, the JDAM autonomously navigates to the designated target coordinates. Target coordinates can be loaded into the aircraft before takeoff, manually altered by the aircrew before weapon release, or automatically entered through target designation with onboard aircraft sensors.

With a range of more than 15 nautical miles, JDAM can defeat high-value targets in any weather, day or night, with minimal risk to air crews. This system works fine even in bad weather, because the JDAM gets all its information from satellite signals, which aren’t blocked by cloud cover or obstacles. The bomb doesn’t have to see anything at all to find its way to the target.

New variants such as Laser JDAM and JDAM Extended Range allow warfighters to prosecute moving targets and deploy the weapon from greater distances, capabilities that come with little to no development risk since they are based on proven technology.

The JDAM played a major role in the U.S. invasion of Afghanistan in 2001, and it will certainly play a significant role in any U.S. bombing campaigns in the near future. While the newest smart bombs aren’t 100 percent accurate, they are such an improvement over their predecessors.

More than 260,000 JDAM kits have been built at Boeing’s production facility in St. Charles, MO.

JDAM is a joint U.S. Air Force and Department of Navy program.

contract

By Debbie Gregory.

The Department of Veterans Affairs (VA), in an attempt to improve the disability examination experience for veterans, has awarded twelve major contracts to improve the deliverability of timely disability benefits claims decisions.

The contracts, worth $6.8 billion, are being awarded for a period of 12 months with four 12-month options.

The VA awarded the contracts to VetFed Resources, Veterans Evaluation Services and QTC Medical Services through the Medical Disability Examination Program in support of the MyVA initiative.

“The goal will be to reduce the veteran’s wait times for examinations as much as possible thereby providing faster claims decisions and enhancing veterans’ experience in a positive way,” said Tom Murphy, acting principal deputy undersecretary for benefits at the VA.

The Medical Disability Examination Program will see the consolidation of the contracts under a single program management initiative, with representation in the central management group from both the Veterans Benefits Administration (VBA) and the Veterans Health Administration (VHA).

“This will be a major accomplishment for veterans going forward, not only for the efficiencies and additional oversight, but VA can now maximize the capacity of inherent capability and leverage the contract expertise and capacity as needed,” said Murphy. “The goal will be to reduce the veteran’s wait times for examinations as much as possible thereby providing faster claims decisions and enhancing Veterans’ experience in a positive way.”

Up until now, contracts for medical examinations have been managed by both administrations with varying degrees of efficiency and delivery time of exam reports, which are critical to veterans’ disability determinations supporting their compensation and pension claim.

The new program management and delivery process will also continue to ensure broad national and international coverage of medical examination requirements to meet veterans’ needs world-wide.

veteranlaunch

By Debbie Gregory.

I recently was able to talk with a new non-profit in California called Veteran Launch.  They are offering what I like to call “Smart Money” to veteran entrepreneurs.  I call it “Smart” because of the attractive interest rates and the network and services they offer to Veterans for free as a part of their support.

First – “smart” interest rates. It always surprises me that about two-thirds of veterans do not shop around to get the best interest rates on their business financing. Veteran Launch is very attractive offering prime plus 4% which is about 7.5% right now. On loans up to $250,000 this is not only close to what banks offer but also much better then most of the online and peer lending options for Veterans.

The next “smart “thing that impressed me about Veteran Launch was how they work with the veteran business owner going into the transaction and help them refine their financials and business plan using some very sophisticated tools. What’s even better is on the back end of the transaction Veteran Launch is there to support the veteran business with free financial software and one-to-one business consulting to help reduce costs, increase revenue, and make sure they stay on top of their finances as they grow their business – I don’t see many lenders doing this for veterans.

They also bring a growing network of organizations that want to work with veteran owned businesses. This network is another “smart” reason to consider Veteran Launch because they can help you find new clients and business partners.

Perhaps the “smartest” thing I saw in Veteran Launch was that they are lead and staffed by military veterans. Their managing director and Army veteran, Noah Harris, brings a no nonsense approach to their support a veteran business owners and it seems to really work. Today they have worked with over 25 veteran business owners and loaned them almost $2.5 million dollars. If you’re a California-based business I suggest you check them out at www.veteranlaunch.org.

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