Report: Service-disabled contracting on the rise

Contracts set aside for businesses owned by service-disabled veterans will pull in nearly $2.8 billion in spending by fiscal 2009, according to a report issued this month by market research firm Input Inc.

The set-asides accounted for $103.7 million in government IT opportunities in 2003, and will comprise $2.1 billion in IT awards in 2005, according to the Reston, Va., company's 10-page report.

Legislation is pushing the increase by creating contracting mechanisms for the government to meet a goal of spending 3 percent of contracting dollars with service-disabled veterans by fiscal 2009. One law lets procurement offices restrict certain awards to businesses owned by service-disabled veterans or to issue sole-source contracts to them.

To qualify, a business must have at least 51 percent ownership by one or more veterans who were disabled while serving on active duty. The service-disabled veteran, or a spouse or caregiver in cases of permanent or severe disability, must manage and direct the company's day-to-day business.

Many federal agencies have tried to improve prime and subcontracting opportunities for service-disabled veteran-owned business, but the government has fallen short of the 3 percent goal. Input said it expects the government to meet the goal within the next few fiscal years.

Finding businesses owned by service-disabled veterans is one of the biggest challenges for the government. More than 4.2 million veteran-owned businesses and 320,000 service-disabled veteran-owned businesses are operating in the United States, according to the Census Bureau. Only a fraction of the businesses, however, is registered as federal government contractors on the Vetbiz.gov Web site and in the Central Contractor Registry, according to Input.

The full report is at http://disabledveterans.input.com.

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