SmallGovCon has covered the SBA’s assumption of control over certification of Service-Disabled Veteran Owned Small Businesses (“SDVOSB”) and Veteran Owned Small Businesses (“VOSB”) since it was first announced well over a year ago. Now, we are coming close to one of the final deadlines associated with SBA taking over these certification processes. It is hard to believe that it is already the end of the calendar year once again. But time flies when you are having federal contracting fun! With the end of 2023 comes a crucial deadline for certain veteran businesses to keep in mind–the date for self-certification to go away.
As we discussed during the SBA’s SDVOSB certification rules rollout, self-certification of SDVOSBs was an item that SBA planned to get rid of. In the final rules and in follow up guidance, SBA stated that self-certified SDVOSB contractors would be given a one-year grace period to submit their certification application to the SBA. During that period, SDVOSBs could still self-certify as an SDVOSB. However, after that one-year grace period, SDVOSB self-certification would be eliminated. (That being said, SBA did indicate in its final rule that SDVOSB self-certification would be allowed for subcontracting purposes and goaling credit, for another five more years).
As you likely know, SBA assumed control of SDVOSB certification on January 1, 2023. So, that one year grace period is coming to an end very soon. As SBA states on its site, there is “one-year grace period for self-certified SDVOSBs until January 1, 2024.” Meaning the grace period’s last day is December 31, 2023, only a few short weeks away.
SDVOSB contractors who are self-certified were given the one-year grace period to file an application for SDVOSB certification. Consequently, a self-certified SDVOSB that sends in its application for SDVOSB certification to SBA prior to January 1, 2024, “will maintain their eligibility through the expiration of the grace period until SBA issues a final eligibility decision.” Meaning, a SDVOSB could self-certify through 2023 to compete for most SDVOSB set-asides (note, though, that VA does not recognized SDVOSB self-certification), but that ability will end on December 31, 2023. Therefore, if you are a self-certified SDVOSB, you have only a few weeks (as of the date of this blog) to get your application in to the SBA. Applications must be sent to the SBA through the SBA’s VetCert portal. If a self-certified SDVOSB contractor misses that deadline, it will find itself no longer SDVOSB certified and standing in line with other new applicants to regain SDVOSB status. In fact the SBA states “Self-certified SDVOSBs are encouraged to submit an application in advance to ensure the certification process is complete by January 1, 2024.”
While every application is different, SBA will generally look for the same things. We highlighted many of these in our back to basics post on SDVOSBs and VOSBs. But it basically boils down to two major things: 1) ownership; and 2) control. In general, the SBA will want to make sure service-disabled veteran(s) directly and unconditionally own the majority of the business. The SBA will also want to make sure service-disabled veteran(s) control the business. Control is typically shown through control of the day-to-day affairs and long-term strategic decision-making of the applicant business. Self-certified SDVSOBs applying to SBA will need to keep these things in mind when preparing their applications. The SBA has provided a FAQ, email (firstname.lastname@example.org), and toll free line (M-F, 8am-6pm ET, 800-862-8088), for any assistance they can provide. Of course, if you find yourself in the situation of needing to apply for SDVOSB certification, it may be a good idea to reach out to a federal contracting lawyer for input, to see if you meet the certification requirement, because there are many nuances to the eligibility requirements SBA places on contractors for the SDVOSB program.
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