A service-disabled veteran-owned small business was awarded its attorneys’ fees for successfully appealing the SBA’s decision that the company was not an eligible SDVOSB.
In what seems to be the first decision of its kind, the SBA Office of Hearings and Appeals held that the prevailing party in a SDVOSB appeal may be entitled to recover attorneys’ fees under the Equal Access to Justice Act.
In a crushing blow to SDVOSBs, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit has denied the appeal of a lower court decision allowing the VA to procure goods and services using the Federal Supply Schedule without first considering whether SDVOSBs can satisfy the requirement.
Rejecting well-stated objections by a dissenting judge, a two-judge majority held that the purpose of the “Veterans First” rule is to ensure that the VA meets its SDVOSB goals, and that so long as the VA meets its SDVOS goals, it is free to procure services and supplies from the Federal Supply Schedule without first considering a SDVOSB procurement.
Last week, the U.S. House of Representatives passed the 2015 defense authorization bill. The House-passed version of the 2015 National Defense Authorization Act would transfer VetBiz SDVOSB verification from the VA to the SBA.
If the Senate agrees, and the President signs the bill into law, the process of transferring SDVOSB verification from the VA CVE to the SBA could begin later this year.
The definition of a “service-disabled veteran-owned small business” would be standardized under a new bill introduced by Senators Angus King and Richard Burr.
The King-Burr bill, S.2334, could resolve a serious problem: under current law, the requirements to qualify as a SDVOSB vary (in some cases, significantly) depending on whether an acquisition falls under the VA’s SDVOSB rules or the SBA’s SDVOSB rules.
The King-Burr bill also directs the GAO to study whether it is practical to implement a Government-wide SDVOSB verification system.
The VA failed to verify the accuracy of a contractor’s representation that it was a veteran-owned small business, according to a new report issued by the VA’s Office of Inspector General.
According to the VA OIG, the VA failed to verify the claim of Westar Development Company, LLC to be a VOSB–and “[t]he evidence does not support a finding that Westar is or ever has been a Veteran-Owned Small Business.” The VA’s failure to verify Westar’s VOSB status is just one of many serious flaws identified by the VA OIG in its audit of the award of a major VA lease to Westar.
The VA is not required to prioritize SDVOSB set-asides when it obtains prosthetic appliances and related services, according to the GAO.
In a recent bid protest decision, the GAO held that a specific statutory exemption allows the VA to procure prosthetic appliances and related services in whatever manner the VA deems best, without regard to the ordinary requirement that the VA prioritize SDVOSB acquisitions.
On February 27, the VA CVE sent an email to companies listed in the VetBiz database, suggesting that all documentation submitted to the CVE may be subject to Freedom of Information Act requests. Many SDVOSBs and VOSBs were outraged–was the VA really stating that tax returns, payroll, bank signature cards, and other closely-guarded information would be made available to the public?
Now, after push back from SDVOSBs and VOSBs, the CVE has issued a press release clarifying that some documentation submitted to the CVE may be withheld under FOIA on a “case by case basis” and that the CVE will seek to limit the exposure of proprietary and personally identifiable information.
The press release is a good start, but in the wake of its misguided email, the CVE needs to do more to assure SDVOSBs and VOSBs that their proprietary information is safe in the government’s hands.