The VA has officially withdrawn its November 2015 proposal to overhaul its SDVOSB and VOSB regulations.
The VA’s action isn’t surprising, given that the 2017 National Defense Authorization Act requires the VA to work with the SBA to prepare a consolidated set of SDVOSB regulations, which will then apply to both VA and non-VA procurements. What’s interesting, though, is that the VA doesn’t say that it’s withdrawing the 2015 proposal because of the 2017 NDAA, but rather because of numerous objections to the proposal–including objections from the SBA.
After receiving “numerous” public comments, the VA has confirmed today that the extended three-year SDVOSB and VOSB verification term–originally adopted in February 2017–will remain in effect indefinitely. Before February, SDVOSBs and VOSBs were required to be reverified every two years.
SDVOSBs and VOSBs will only be required to obtain reverification every three years under an interim final rule adopted yesterday by the VA.
The VA’s new rule replaces the prior rule, which required reverification every two years. The purpose of the change? To “reduce the administrative burden on SDVOSB/VOSBs regarding participation in VA acquisition set asides for these types of firms.”
The VA is proposing a major overhaul to its SDVOSB program regulations–including the rules governing ownership and control.
In a proposed rule released today, the VA is seeking to “find an appropriate balance between preventing fraud in the Veterans First Contracting Program and providing a process that would make it easier for more VOSBs to become verified.” And while the proposal isn’t perfect, it looks like a step in the right direction.
Even if the VA Center for Verification and Evaluation has found that a service-disabled veteran “unconditionally” controls a SDVOSB, the SBA may nonetheless determine that other individuals or entities also control the company within the meaning of the SBA’s affiliation rules.
As demonstrated by a recent decision of the SBA’s Office of Hearings and Appeals, VA CVE verification does not shield a SDVOSB from an adverse SBA affiliation determination, even if that determination is based on a finding that non-veterans control the company.
An incumbent contractor performing VA CVE SDVOSB verification functions was ineligible to be be re-awarded an order for those services because of an unmitigated organizational conflict of interest.
In a recent decision, the U.S. Court of Federal Claims upheld the VA’s decision to cancel the award to the incumbent contractor and exclude that contractor from the follow-on order.
The VA CVE appears to have survived a Congressional effort to strip the CVE of its verification function.
In May, the House of Representatives included a provision in the 2015 NDAA that would have required the CVE to transfer SDVOSB verification to the SBA. But after negotiations with the Senate, the House passed a new version of the 2015 NDAA last week–and the new version omits the verification transfer provision.