Kerry blasts closure of Veteran's Contracting Office

The closure of the Veteran's Contracting Office at the Small Business Administration and the planned cancellation of the Veterans Advisory Committee in September have drawn the ire of Sen. John Kerry (D-Mass.).

In a statement, Kerry, the ranking Democrat on the Senate Small Business and Entrepreneurship Committee, accused the administration of closing the Office of Federal Contract Assistance for Veteran Business Owners Office of Government Contracting without notification. He called the two moves "appalling, especially just before Memorial Day."

While the SBA has made no official statement about the closing, SBA spokesman Raul Cisneros denied that the program had been closed and said it had been "shifted to the Office of Veterans Business Development. With the resources in that office, we can better serve the veteran's business community."

But when asked to explain whether veteran business owners saw the move as a scaling back of support for veteran businesses, Cisneros answered "certainly not" but offered no further explanation.

As required by law, the federal government is required to award 3 percent of all federal contracting dollars to service-disabled veteran-owned firms. But in 2005 the federal government awarded just 0.38 percent of contract dollars to companies owned by service-disabled veterans. The difference between what the veterans were awarded and what those businesses should have received under the government's stated goal for awards was nearly $9 billion, Kerry said.

"It is shameful that in a time of war the administration saw fit to abandon our commitment to those who have honorably served our country and the brave men and women serving today who will be the proud veterans of tomorrow," Kerry said.

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