SDVOSB Eligibility: Lack of VetBiz Verification Irrelevant for Non-VA SDVOSB Set-Asides

“So what?”

That, in essence, is what the SBA Office of Hearings and Appeals had to say in a recent SDVOSB appeal decision, in which the protester contended that the service-disabled veteran-owned small business in question was not listed in the VA’s VetBiz database.  The SBA OHA decision serves as an important reminder: CVE verification only matters for VA SDVOSB set-asides.  When another agency sets-aside a procurement for SDVOSBs, there is no requirement that the awardee be listed in the VetBiz database.

SBA OHA’s decision in SDVOSB Appeal of H&H-DMS Joint Venture, SBA No. VET-229 (2012), involved an Army SDVOSB set-aside procurement for maintenance, repair, and construction work.  After the Army identified Kepa Services, Inc. as the apparent successful awardee, a competitor filed a SDVOSB protest.  The protester alleged simply that Kepa was not listed in the VetBiz database, and was “conspicuous by its absence.”

SBA OHA held that the SBA had properly dismissed the protest as insufficiently specific–in other words, that the protester had not presented any viable evidence that Kepa was not an eligible SDVOSB.  SBA OHA wrote: “This procurement is an Army procurement and is thus under SBA’s SDVO SBC regulations. Under SBA’s regulations there is no requirement that a firm be included in VA’s VetBiz database.  A concern need not be listed in VetBiz in order to bid on procurements for Federal agencies other than the VA. 13 C.F.R. §§ 125.9, 125.10. Accordingly, an allegation that a firm is not listed on the VetBiz database is not valid grounds for a protest under SBA’s regulations.”

VetBiz verification has drawn national headlines in recent years, but it is worth remembering that the verification system currently applies only to VA procurements (as well as procurements issued by the Federal Aviation Administration, which is currently requiring VetBiz verification for FAA SDVOSB set-asides).  For other federal agencies, the SBA’s self-certification system is still in effect, and no VetBiz listing is necessary to win a SDVOSB set-aside contract.

16 thoughts on “SDVOSB Eligibility: Lack of VetBiz Verification Irrelevant for Non-VA SDVOSB Set-Asides

  1. Beyond this blog, has the SBA published a memo informing veterans that you can self-certify your company’s SDVOSB Designation and that you don’t need a separate certification from the VA unless you compete for specific VA business? I am not clear why self certification of your small business is ok to compete for contracts with the rest of the federal agencies but not with VA. doesn’t make sense. Thanks for any clarification.

    • Pete,

      Thank you for reading and for the comment. There is no question that the current SDVOSB system is confusing. Several years ago, the SBA self-certification program applied to all federal agencies. However, in 2006, Congress passed a statute directing the VA–and only the VA–to adopt an internal certification program for SDVOSBs through the VetBiz system. This legislation effectively exempted the VA from the SBA requirement, and held the VA to a different standard than other federal agencies.

      So, as it stands now, there are two separate SDVOSB programs: the VA program, which applies only to the VA, and the SBA program, which applies to most other federal agencies. At some point, I expect that Congress will pass legislation requiring formal certification of all SDVOSBs, but given the problems that have surfaced with SDVOSB certification at the CVE, it may be a few years before that occurs. Until then, self-certification is the rule for most non-VA procurements.

      Thanks again for reading!

      Steven

  2. Realize the Army upheld that the Company did not have to be in VetBiz. What is the ruling on the FAA who is now requiring SDVOSB companies to be verified by the VA to work in FAA.

    • Wes,

      You are correct: the FAA is now requiring VetBiz verification for FAA SDVOSB set-asides. I wrote a post about this topic a few days after I wrote this post, and have updated this post to link to it.

      Unlike most federal agencies, the FAA is exempt from the FAR and from the Small Business Act, which creates the SBA’s set-aside programs. The FAA has its own Acquisition Management System, or AMS, which governs FAA procurements. The FAA has updated the AMS to require VetBiz verification for FAA SDVOSB set-asides. This AMS update applies only to the FAA, and is what gives the FAA authority to require the certification.

      I am not aware of any other federal agency, other than the VA or FAA, currently requiring VetBiz verification for SDVOSB set-asides, and I believe there would need to be legal authority in place (such as the AMS) if they wished to do so.

      Steven

  3. I’m glad I found this article and read the decision. I attended a PTAC workshop this morning and the trainer said any and all SDVOSBs must be certified through the VA. My boyfriend and I are opening a business in January – he is going through voc rehab with the local VA and at no point in time have they ever told him this. The business will go through all the steps for MBE and SDVO certifications but she confused today. Has something changed since this was written or will we still be able to pursue SDVO set asides before the certification process through the VA is complete?

    • Rebecca,

      The guidance you received from the trainer is incorrect. Currently, VA verification is only required for the VA and FAA (the FAA operates outside of the normal procurement rules and has elected to piggy-back on the VA’s verification system). For other agencies, including DoD components, DHS, HHS, etc., the SBA’s self-certification system still applies.

      Steve

  4. The SBA is giving short-shrift to SDVOSB firms. In addition to ignoring CVE verification, the SBA omits any reference to the category of SDVOSB in its training seminar “Doing Business with the Government”. They address the requirements for 8A, WOB, and HubZone, but do not mention SDVOSB

    • Richard,

      Thank you for the comment. I was not aware of the omission from the SBA’s seminar. Any SBA seminar addressing 8(a), WOSB and HUBZone should also discuss SDVOSB, as the SBA still has jurisdiction over the SDVOSB program for all agencies but the VA (and FAA, which has piggybacked on the VA). Omitting it will only lead to more confusion and potentially make participants in the seminar erroneously think that the SBA does not play a role in the SDVOSB program.

      Steve

      • SBA has a separate on line training module for the SDVOSB program, however, someone should point out to SBA that vets and sdvets information should also be in the Doing Biz With the Gov. piece.

  5. Steve,

    The data you have provided is extremely helpful.

    I have a SDVOSB and have registered with several large companies vendor diversity programs. Many request a certificate reflecting SDV status. I called the local SBA office, they informed me that the SBA does not have any SDVOSB certification or any documentation verifying SDV status. Do you know of any certificates or documentation that could be used in replying to the companies asking for documentation on the SDV status?

    Thank you.

    Don C.

      • Steve,

        I would appreciate info such as Don C. requested. I also get requests for SDVOSB verification from some of the government contractors with whom I do business. When I reply “Umm, it’s a self-certifying program, there is no official certificate or documentation” they get confused. Others simply request I fill out their own internal questionnaire, which is fine. Some want me to register with SAM or CVE, even though I don’t seek contracts directly with government agencies.

        You are correct, there is a lot of confusion and misinformation out there about the VA vs. non-VA issue.

        Thanks!

        Ken S.

  6. I would appreciate info such as Don C. and Kenneth Shrum requested. I also get requests for SDVOSB verification from some of the government contractors with whom I do business. When I reply “Umm, it’s a self-certifying program, there is no official certificate or documentation” they get confused. Others simply request I fill out their own internal questionnaire, which is fine. Some want me to register with SAM or CVE, even though I don’t seek contracts directly with government agencies.

    You are correct, there is a lot of confusion and misinformation out there about the VA vs. non-VA issue.

    Thanks!

    John Ellis

  7. Im in the process of establishing my SDVOSB and spoke to a CVE Counselor and he informed me of the self certification option. If i decide to go through the evaluation process for VA contracts, all other agencies will also be available to my business?

    • Michael,

      Thanks for reading. The VA CVE verification applies only to VA (and FAA) contracts. It does not apply to SDVOSB procurements for most other agencies, which operate under the SBA’s self-certification program. The VA and SBA programs are largely similar, but there are some differences. Eligibility for one does not automatically mean eligibility for the other.

      – Steve

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