Veteran Entrepreneurs and Disabled Veterans looking to start their own businesses have sought assistance, advice & funding from the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) since its official formation in 1930. The VA gained its authority to aid and assist Veteran Entrepreneurs with obtaining government contracts through the “Veterans Benefits, Health Care, and Information Technology Act of 2006”. This legislation was enacted by congress in order to expand and improve benefits for Veterans, Disabled Veterans and their survivors and dependants. Recently, under this statute, the VA has created the Veterans First Contracting Program.
Section 502 of the act establishes the VA’s role for setting goals for the participation of Disabled Veteran-Owned Small Businesses (SDVOSB’s) , and Veteran-Owned Small Businesses (VOSB’s) in procurement contracts. And Section 503 establishes that the VA will grant priority to SDVOSB/VOSB‘s that meet requirements set forth by the VA.
As part of the Veterans First Contracting Program, the VA has made one of its participation requirements to be the entry of the SDVOSB/VOSB into its small business database. To ensure that this requirement is met, the VA is making entry into its database part of their verification process. And in order to qualify for participation in the VA Veterans First Contracting Program, eligible business owners must first be verified.
Along with adding businesses into their database, the VA has implemented a new procurement hierarchy which places their highest priority with SDVOB followed by VOSB. In the hierarchy, these businesses are followed by businesses in the Historically Underutilized Business Zones (HUBZone) program, Woman-Owned Small Business, and then all other small businesses. This procurement hierarchy is an extension of VA’s mission to care for Veterans.
In order to prevent Veteran Entrepreneurs from being disqualified for VA assistance solely due to incorrect/incomplete applications, the VA has made the VA SDVOSB/VOSB Verification Application Guide available on their website. The VA has also developed a Verification Assistance Program designed to help Veterans understand the Verification policy and walk them through the process. The goals of the programs in these links are to help reduce the risk of denial due to lack of understanding and misinterpretation of the new regulations. Veteran Entrepreneurs can also find step-by-step instructions in the VA’s Verification Process Briefing.