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VIP START, a new addition to VIP programming, accelerates the success of Veteran owned small businesses into the Federal marketplace.  VIP GROW, the flagship program of VIP, accelerates the growth of Veteran owned small businesses in the federal marketplace.  VIP START – October 18 – 20, 2016.  VIP GROW – December 6-8, 2016, and something new, VIP INTL. – March 14 – 16, 2017.  Visit them on the web  to learn more and to register for these amazing programs.

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Disabled Veteran Business Alliance (DVBA) – Turning Contracts into Contacts – 5th Annual Procurement Conference. Friday, September 30, 2016, 10:00 a.m. – 5:30 p.m. at Southern California Gas Company’s Energy Resource Center 9240 Firestone Blvd, Downey, CA 90241.  Go here for details:

https://www.trailblz.info/disabledvetba/eviewer.aspx?vid=3F2E2713BC5D6680079A15795616DD10FCC17FCD4C9BB9963FBB29C375662DC4

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The 13th Annual Elite SDVOSB Network National Conference/Convention, San Antonio, Texas, August 24 – 26, 2016.  For details:  http://www.sdvobconference.com/

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By Debbie Gregory.

UnitedHealthcare is in good company as Health Net Federal Services and WellPoint Military Care have joined in on the protest of the awarding of the military contract to manage the Tricare health program.

The contract, called T-2017 and awarded in July, is worth up to $58 billion and oversees private health services for nearly 9.4 million military family members, retirees and active duty personnel.

Health Net Federal Services, which now manages the Tricare North Region and was awarded the contract to manage Tricare’s West region, filed a protest over the Defense Department’s decision to give the East region contract to Humana Government Business.

The Defense Department and the Defense Health Agency said in 2014 that they would shift Tricare from a three-region system—North, South and West—to two coverage areas.

The brand new East region is a consolidation of the North and South regions

The West region contract has a maximum value of $18 billion over six years, while the six-year East region contract is potentially worth $41 billion.

WellPoint Military Care, a division of Anthem Blue Cross and Blue Shield, was created to vie for the lucrative contract.

UnitedHealth Military & Veterans, which manages the Tricare West contract, was the first to file protests over the awards. It was not selected to manage either of the new consolidated regions.

A Pentagon spokesman said the protest will not affect health care services for Tricare beneficiaries, adding that the current contracts will remain in place until all protests are resolved.

The Defense Health Agency has 30 days to respond to the protests. The U.S. Government Accountability Office (GAO) is expected to rule on the bid protest by November 9, 2016.

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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.

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