VA increases verification of veteran-owned businesses
Companies must now prove status to win set-aside contracts
- By Matthew Weigelt
- Jan 04, 2011
Veterans Affairs Department officials are in the early stages of verifying that the businesses in the VetBiz.gov database are in fact owned by veterans.
VA announced Jan. 3 that companies identifying themselves as small businesses or veteran-owned businesses must now verify their status to gain priority for some of the department’s set-aside contracts. Officials sent notices in early December to more than 13,000 companies in its database, which are designated as veteran owned. Those companies must provide documents within three months of receiving the agency’s notice to keep the status.
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For now, officials are asking businesses to submit their information on CD-ROM. In February though, VA officials plan to have companies submitting documents electronically.
The VA is first verifying firms that are in line to receive a set-aside contract from the department. Officials will then look at companies in its database. Other small businesses that want a Vendor Information Page (VIP) in the database and compete for future set-aside contracts also have to submit application packages.
By documenting companies, the government hopes to eliminate, or at least decrease the likelihood of fraud inside. Investigators at the Government Accountability Office have uncovered problems with fraud in part because of failures to adequately verify companies’ eligibility. In 2009, GAO reported $100 million in fraud or abuses of the program for service-disabled veterans. This and other similar programs, which help small businesses of like size and status compete for contracts, have proved ripe with abuses, GAO has reported in the last several years.
Companies now will have to submit an application to substantiate their status to VA as owned and controlled by veterans, service-disabled veterans or eligible surviving spouses. Only companies that submit the information will be listed in the department’s VetBiz.gov VIP database. Those pages have details on companies for contracting officers interested in setting aside contracts for veteran-owned businesses.
Congress mandated that VA do the verification in the Veterans Benefits Act, which President Barack Obama signed into law Oct. 13. The law expands the department’s requirement to check businesses’ status.
For more information on verifications, visit the Office of Small and Disadvantaged Business Utilization’s website.
Matthew Weigelt is a freelance journalist who writes about acquisition and procurement.