Service Disabled Veteran-Owned and Veteran-Owned Small Business (VOSB and SDVOSB) Contracting
Contracting Opportunities for VOSBs and SDVOSBs
If you are a Veteran or Service Disabled Veteran entrepreneur, you’ll want to understand the programs and preferences in place to support your participation in federal government contracting. Two distinct programs – the government-wide Service Disabled Veteran-owned Small Business Concern Program and the VA’s Veterans First Contracting Program – have significantly different parameters and requirements. Take a few minutes to learn about them below, then contact your local PTAC to determine how your business can best take advantage of the opportunities they present.
Service Disabled Veteran-owned Small Business Concern Program
The purpose of the Service-Disabled Veteran-Owned Small Business Concern (SDVOSBC) Program is to provide agencies with the authority to set acquisitions aside for exclusive competition among SDVOSB concerns, as well as the authority to make sole source awards to SDVOSB concerns if certain conditions are met. (See Code of Federal Regulations (CFR) 13 C.F.R. § 125.8-125.10).
This program was developed to help agencies meet the government-wide goal that not less than 3% of the total value of all prime contract and subcontract awards be made to small businesses owned and controlled by service-disabled veterans stipulated by the Veterans Entrepreneurship and Small Business Development Act of 1999. It does not provide a priority or preference to SDVOSBs, it simply allows contracting officers to create SDVOSB set-asides or make sole source awards if they choose to do so in an effort to meet the 3% goal. Each agency is required by Executive Order 13360 to have a strategy to meet its SDVOSB contracting and subcontracting goals.
To be eligible for the SDVOSBC, the following criteria must be met:
- The Service Disabled Veteran (SDV) must have a service-connected disability as determined by the VA or Department of Defense (DoD)
- The SDVOSBC must be small under the North American Industry Classification System (NAICS) code assigned to the procurement
- One or more Service Disabled Veterns must unconditionally own 51% of the business, control its management – including long-term decision making – and daily operations, AND hold the highest officer position
- Ownership by one or more service disabled veterans must be direct ownership. A concern owned principally by another business entity that is in turn owned and controlled by one or more service-disabled veterans does not meet this requirement.
The SDVOSBC program is self-certifying, meaning that no verification process is currently required. Individual Contracting Officers may require documentation of eligibility before awarding set-aside or sole source contracts under the program and awards may be subject to protest if the eligibility of the successful bidder is in question. Significant penalties, including prison sentences, have been imposed on some contractors found to have fraudulently claimed SDVOSB status. Read more on fraud.
Veterans First Contracting Program:
Within the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA), the procurement hierarchy for open market acquisitions places the highest priority on SDVOSBs, followed by VOSBs, putting Veteran-owned businesses ahead of 8(a), HUBZone, Woman-owned and other small businesses. This is the only program that gives first priority to veterans and the only program that provides a preference for veteran business owners who are not service-disabled. The VA is one of the largest federal procurement organizations, awarding over $3 billion to Veteran-owned small businesses.
Verification: To qualify for the Veterans First Contracting Program, businesses must be found eligible through the VA’s Verification process, which is administered by the VA’s Center for Verification and Evaluation (CVE). The core requirements are as follows (per 38 CFR part 74):
- The Veteran owner(s) have direct, unconditional ownership of at least 51percent of the company and have full decision making authority;
- The Veteran manages the company on both a strategic policy and a day-to-day basis;
- The Veteran holds the highest officer position;
- The Veteran should be the highest compensated employee unless there is a logical explanation otherwise, submitted by the Veteran as to how taking a lower salary than other employee(s) helps the business; and
- The Veteran has the managerial experience of the extent and complexity needed to manage the company.
- To be eligible for the SDVOSB Certification, the Veteran applicant must meet the eligibility requirements in 38 CFR § 74 and possess either a disability rating letter issued by VA establishing a service-connected rating between 0 and 100 percent or a disability determination from the Department of Defense.
The Applicant bears the burden of proof of adequately establishing its claimed status.
Verification Assistance: To help Veteran business owners more easily (and successfully) navigate the verification process, the VA has developed a number of tools and guides (see the right sidebar) in addition to creating the Verification Assistance Program through which assistance counselors (including many PTAC specialists) have been specially trained to provide free assistance to veterans seeking verification. Click here to find a Certified Verification Assistance Counselor near you.
PTAC SDVOSB Successes
Greenleaf Services Inc. For those who serve in the military, there is no greater honor than to be buried alongside fellow soldiers in Arlington National Cemetery. For Brad Winemiller and Greenleaf Services Inc., a service-disabled, veteran-owned small construction and landscaping business based in Delaware, there is no greater honor than tending to those sacred grounds.
Beginning in 2005, the Delaware PTAC worked closely with Greenleaf to help formulate a government marketing strategy and was pivotal in establishing connections, directing them to disabled service seminars, and helping them get past the initial red tape of government contracting. Although initially unsuccessful, Winemiller did not become discouraged, and Greenleaf’s main focus has been on government contracts since 2008. The company provides services to government grounds such as the Veterans Administration Medical Center in Wilmington, Delaware; Togus National Cemetery in Maine; Beverly National Cemetery in New Jersey; and many others. Greenleaf’s success has allowed Winemiller to hire other veterans, a hiring practice that helps boost the culture of respect differentiating Greenleaf from other businesses. Most exciting is a recent contract awarded in September, 2014 which gave Greenleaf the authority to take care of 640 acres at Arlington National Cemetery for a base year with two option years. Greenleaf still keeps regular communication with the PTAC and welcomes the advice from the team. Click here to read a Januaryy 6, 2015 article about Greenleaf that appeared in the University of Delaware Daily.
PTAC and VA CVE Counselors assist Veterans at
the National Veterans Conference
At no cost, your local PTAC can help you:
- Determine if you may be eligible for the Veterans First or SDVOSBC program
- Complete SAM and other registrations necessary to bid
- Navigate the Vets First Verification process
- Market your SDVOSB or VOSB status
- Understand SDVOSB and VOSB opportunities for state and local government contracts
- Find contracting opportunities even if you don’t qualify as an SDVOSB/VOSB!
Additional Resource Links
4 Steps to Verification
Contact your nearest PTAC before you begin – they can provide invaluable help with this process!
- Complete the Pre-Application steps and meet with a certified Verification Counselor.
- Submit all documentation in the key areas of ELIGIBILITY, OWNERSIP & CONTROL.
- Respond quickly to “Additional Document Requests” and provided detailed “Letters of Explanation” where needed.
- Get updates on their verification status from CVE-provided emails.
Another PTAC SDVOSB Success
Samaritan Emergency Medical Services is a division of CLV Enterprises, a Service Disabled Veteran Small Business wholly owned by Charles and Casandra Vetters of Skiatook, Oklahoma. With the help of the Oklahoma Bid Assistance Network (OBAN) PTAC, Samaritan EMS recently received a multi-year contract to operate ambulance services -including Paramedic level emergency response and patient transport services – at Tinker Air Force Base in Oklahoma.
Under the contract, the company will provide two, twenty-four hour Paramedic staffed ambulances dedicated to the Base. OBAN’s Tulsa, Oklahoma office helped Samaritan EMS identify this opportunity, and OBAN Counselor Larry Findeiss provided additional assistance in reviewing the proposal format and content and ensuring that the proposal content was compliant with the Performance Work Statement. Although initially not selected as the winning bidder, they submitted to the Contracting Officer a Size Standard protest in accordance with SBA guidelines, which was sustained and the Contract Award was issued with an adjustment to the initial performance period.