Disabled-veterans to benefit from agreement

The General Services Administration and an organization that promotes veteran-owned businesses signed an agreement today to increase the amount of money GSA sends to service-disabled veterans, the agency said.

The Veterans Entrepreneurship Task Force (VET-Force) will try to link a network of veteran business owners to available federal contracts, GSA said.

"GSA welcomes the opportunity to work with the VET-Force and other organizations committed to helping veterans and service-disabled veterans who are entrepreneurs," said David Bibb, acting GSA administrator.

Formed in 1998, the VET-Force advocates for the Veterans Entrepreneurship and Small Business Development Act of 1999. The law acknowledged that veterans, particularly service-disabled veterans, need assistance to form and expand their small businesses.

In 2004, President Bush also encouraged the government to send more contracting dollars to firms owned by service-disabled veterans. In an executive order, he ordered agencies to strive to send 3 percent of their contracting dollars to those businesses. However, in fiscal 2006 governmentwide figures, those businesses received only 0.9 percent of the agencies' overall contract dollars, according to the Small Business Administration. SBA has not released figures for fiscal 2007.

GSA, through the third quarter of fiscal 2008, has awarded 3.2 percent of its total procurement dollars to service-disabled, veteran-owned small businesses, according to preliminary figures the agency released.

In fiscal 2007, GSA awarded 2.2 percent of its total procurement dollars to service-disabled veterans, GSA said. In fiscal 2006, the agency awarded $79 millions, or 1.4 percent of contracting dollars, to them, and in fiscal 2005, it awarded $60.3 million, or 1.3 percent, according to data from SBA.

GSA's Memorandum of Agreement with Vet-Force made that organization a part of its 21-Gun-Salute Initiative. The 21-Gun-Salute team works with federal agencies, veterans and industry to help reach the 3 percent goal.

Matthew Weigelt writes for Federal Computer Week, an 1105 Government Information Group publication.

About the Author

Matthew Weigelt is a freelance journalist who writes about acquisition and procurement.

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