For SDVOSBs and VOSBs, June 16, 2016 was a monumental day. That morning, the U.S. Supreme Court issued its unanimous decision in Kingdomware Technologies, Inc. v. United States, holding that the VA must follow the law by putting “veterans first” in VA contracting.
Koprince Law LLC was honored to submit an amicus brief to the Supreme Court supporting Kingdomware, and my colleagues and I were thrilled with the Court’s 8-0 decision. Click here to check out my post from June 16, 2016 proclaiming “Victory!” for SDVOSBs and VOSBs in this watershed case.
The Kingdomware decision didn’t (and couldn’t) solve every problem that some SDVOSBs and VOSBs have had with VA’s contracting practices, but five years later there is no doubt in my mind that the Court’s decision has been the driving force behind a large increase in VA’s SDVOSB and VOSB contracting. Happy anniversary!
Statute A tells you to solve Problem X one way. Statute B tells you to solve Problem X a completely different way. How do you reconcile these two conflicting mandates? The Federal Circuit encountered this exact problem in 2018, and in response to its holding, the VA has now issued a class deviation to reflect its decision, confirming that the Rule of Two has priority over the AbilityOne Procurement List.
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.
In a crushing blow to SDVOSBs, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit has denied the appeal of a lower court decision allowing the VA to procure goods and services using the Federal Supply Schedule without first considering whether SDVOSBs can satisfy the requirement.
Rejecting well-stated objections by a dissenting judge, a two-judge majority held that the purpose of the “Veterans First” rule is to ensure that the VA meets its SDVOSB goals, and that so long as the VA meets its SDVOSB goals, it is free to procure services and supplies from the Federal Supply Schedule without first considering a SDVOSB procurement.
The VA is not required to prioritize SDVOSB set-asides when it obtains prosthetic appliances and related services, according to the GAO.
In a recent bid protest decision, the GAO held that a specific statutory exemption allows the VA to procure prosthetic appliances and related services in whatever manner the VA deems best, without regard to the ordinary requirement that the VA prioritize SDVOSB acquisitions.