If the VA Center for Verification and Evaluation denies a company’s application for verification as a service-disabled veteran-owned small business, the applicant has the right to appeal–but the appeal must be filed with the SBA, not the VA.
In a recent case, an applicant tried to appeal its denial to the VA, apparently based on the erroneous advice of a VA employee. By the time the applicant realized that it had appealed to the wrong agency, it was too late.
The decision of the SBA’s Office of Hearings and Appeals in CVE Appeal of Starblast, Inc., SBA No. CVE-164 (Sept. 9, 2020) is a cautionary tale about the importance of knowing where to file a CVE verification appeal.
On June 3, 2020, CVE denied Starblast’s SDVOSB application. Apparently, a VA employee advised Starblast to file an appeal with the VA. So that’s what Starblast did: on June 5, it emailed an appeal to firstname.lastname@example.org and email@example.com.
Once upon a time, the VA did have authority to decide appeals of CVE denials. But beginning in October 2018, that authority moved to the SBA Office of Hearings and Appeals. Current VA regulations say that “an applicant may appeal CVE’s decision to deny an application by filing an appeal with the United States Small Business Administration (SBA) Office of Hearings and Appeals (OHA).” The VA no longer has authority to hear such appeals.
Starblast eventually realized its mistake and filed an appeal with SBA OHA on August 31. But by then, it was too late–SBA regulations require CVE appeals to be filed within 10 business says of receipt of the denial.
The OHA judge wrote, “[a]lthough I sympathize with [Starblast], the regulations afford OHA no discretion to extend, or waive, the deadline for filing an appeal.” OHA dismissed Starblast’s CVE appeal as untimely.
The SDVOSB regulations and processes have changed considerably in recent years. While that’s mostly been a good thing, it’s undoubtedly created some confusion, too, especially when it comes to the roles played by CVE and the SBA in the verification process. As Starblast unfortunately learned, following the 2018 changes, the SBA Office of Hearings and Appeals has exclusive jurisdiction over CVE verification appeals.
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