It’s been one year since the U.S. Small business Administration (SBA) took over the federal government’s veteran-owned small business contracting program from the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA), and a lot has happened in that amount of time. Here, we discuss how SBA has handled the Veteran Small Business Certification Program in the first year and some of SBA’s achievments. And in other big SDVOSB news, the federal government will be providing more contracts for veteran-owned entities under the National Defense Authorization Act’s increased contracting goals.
VetCert is One Year Old
In a welcome change to the much longer process of years past, SBA has streamlined the process that service-disabled veteran owned small businesses (SDVOSBs) and veteran owned small businesses (VOSBs) must endure to either become certified for the first time, or to continue its certification. In 2023, VetCert approved over 10,400 applications from SDVOSBs and VOSBs, while averaging only 15 days for the applications to be processed. Wow! Perhaps the CVE can give some pointers to the WOSB certification program, which has endured some very long wait times based on what we’ve heard from folks.
You can read the full press release here, but some of the high points include:
- Streamlining of ownership and control requirements to make them similar to those of the 8(a) Program and Woman-Owned Small Business Program;
- Monthly (or more) VetCert webinars for interested applicants discussing the application process (register here);
- Updated frequently asked questions library; and
- Centralized reporting, via the Veterans Case Management System (VCMS), for changes in ownership, company structure, veteran status, and recertification.
- “To date, 42,525 VetCert customer service responses have been completed by the VetCert Verification Support personnel.”
From what we’ve heard and experienced, the VetCert program has been very efficient, especially compared to other SBA programs. Kudos to SBA for that!
Joint Venture Certification
While the transition from the VA to the SBA has been a relatively smooth one, it still had some questions that needed to be answered. At the top of the list: What does a joint venture need to do to be an eligible offeror? Is there a certification or registration requirement for the joint venture, separate from the registration requirement of the SDVOSB or VOSB venturer? We’ve seen some language in solicitations that seems to state that joint ventures must be certified or registered. But is that the case? And if so, where, or how?
Well, the answer to that is two-fold.
First, SDVOSBs and VOSBs do not have to go through the certification process under the regulatory language, and SBA judges have confirmed this. Freedom Technology Partners, LLC, SBA No. VSBC-321-P, 2023 (Dec 4, 2023). Instead, their eligibility is based on the SDVOSB or VOSB status of their managing venturer per 13 C.F.R. § 128.402.
But, just because the joint venture does not need to be certified, it does appear that SBA is requiring joint venture offerors to be “designated” as an SDVOSB or VOSB joint venture. Late in 2023, SBA published, within its FAQ library, guidance which states, “Joint Ventures do not get certified as SDVOSBs or VOSBs by SBA. Instead, they must be ‘designated’ as eligible for sole-source or set-aside awards under the Veteran Small Business Certification Program by the Managing Venturer.” This is done by the managing venturer, who “must log into VCMS and ‘claim’ the Joint Venture.” Visit the FAQs to view a step-by-step walkthrough of this process.
SDVOSB Contracting Goals Increase
Finally, the 2024 National Defense Authorization Act will bring with it a bump in the SDVOSB contracting goals. The government-wide goal for contracting with SDVOSBs will go from three percent, which it has been at since 2000, to five percent. It will be interesting to see if SBA or other agencies change their policies based on this new goal. But based on prior years’ small business scorecards, agencies don’t have too far to go to hit the new goal. In fact, 2022 came in with 4.57%, less than a half of a percentage short of the soon-to-be 5% goal. This is great news for veterans to ensure they continue receiving a large number of federal contracting dollars.
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