GAO recently gave its blessing to a VA decision not to follow the Rule of Two, despite knowing several SDVOSBs would bid. The VA’s decision was based on the contracting officer’s opinion that prices would not be fair and reasonable based on an evaluation of prices and market research. The decision is important for providing some clarification on what research a contracting officer must undertake to establish that prices will not be fair and reasonable for purposes of the Rule of Two.Continue reading
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.
In a stunning development in the Kingdomware SDVOSB/VOSB Supreme Court case, the Government has abandoned the argument that the statutory preference for veteran-owned companies applies only if the VA has not met its SDVOSB or VOSB contracting goals.
Although this argument was hotly debated, it was successful both at the Court of Federal Claims and again at the Federal Circuit. But now, just weeks away from oral arguments, the Government’s Supreme Court brief jettisons the Government’s own previously successful argument in favor of an entirely different rationale for refusing to honor the statutory SDVOSB and VOSB preferences.
The last-minute, wholesale substitution of arguments doesn’t say much for the Government’s confidence in its case. And on the merits, the Government’s new argument is no better than the one it has abruptly abandoned.
Is the Department of Veterans Affairs required to prioritize service-disabled veteran-owned small businesses (“SDVOSBs”) when it buys supplies and services? That, essentially, will be the question before the Supreme Court when it takes up the case of Kingdomware Technologies, Inc. vs. United States. On June 22, the Supreme Court agreed to hear the case.
The Supreme Court’s decision in Kingdomware will end a long-running battle between the VA and various SDVOSBs, which have accused the VA of creating loopholes to avoid a statutory contracting preference for veterans. Hopefully, the Court will get it right. As a matter of policy and law, the underlying decision of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit is fundamentally flawed.
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.