GAO slaps VA for not using vets

The Government Accountability Office sided again with a bid protestor, saying the Veterans Affairs Department should have set aside a contract for emergency notification services to a service-disabled veteran.

GAO sustained a protest by Kingdomware Technologies of Waldorf, Md., which charged that VA officials didn’t comply with the law and regulations under the Veterans Benefits, Health Care and IT Act. It requires VA to conduct market research to find at least two service-disabled veteran-owned small businesses that could perform the work.

For the emergency notification services, VA officials awarded the contract to another company when market research conducted by Kingdomware found at least 20 service-disabled, veteran-owned business on the General Services Administration’s Federal Supply Schedule that could be potential awardees.

VA officials maintained that schedule acquisitions are not affected by the set-aside authority in the law. They said the set-asides are discretionary for schedule procurements.

In March, GAO sustained a similar protest related to an ice maker and dispenser for shipment to Sheridan, Wyo. In that protest, VA officials argued that the law affords them the option to consider when they should set aside a contract and when to compete it openly. Officials could restrict competition based on the progress VA has made on reaching its annual small business contracting goals.

GAO said the law had no such language and officials should first seek to award contracts to service-disabled veterans. GAO also disagreed with VA on similar grounds in Kingdomware Technologies’ protest.

As for Kingdomware Technologies, GAO recommended canceling the current contract and conducting another competition for the work as a set-aside for service-disabled, veteran-owned business, as long as two or more companies meet the requirements at a reasonable price.

About the Author

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

Reader Comments

Mon, Jun 4, 2012 Wounded Warriors

I'm commenting on behalf of wounded warriors in an effort to help promote and support service-disabled veteran-owned small businesses. Many wounded warriors are coming home, getting out of the military and jobs are very limited. Therefore many have decided to start their own businesses in an attempt to survive and support their families. In an effort to help, we have created the http://w DOT ww.veteransdirectory.com Directory at VeteransDirectory.com. Please help us let others know about these businesses and this cause. Thank you!

Fri, Jun 1, 2012

In Michigan, VA employees aren't always even citizens. The new head of the VA's Vocational Rehabilitation and Employment program in Detroit is a Canadian citizen who commutes!

Fri, Jun 1, 2012 Raul Espinosa

A GAO decision (AKA slap,) means absolutely nothing and it carriers no weight (zilch, zero!) In fact, there is no 'fairness' in the GAO protest process! The GAO protest system, as we know it, neither deliver justice to the victors (e.g., the contract they fought for) nor does it forces the Agency to reward the victor or to abide by the law and the regulations. Frankly, GAO has been avoiding addressing abusive procurement practices (i.e., the exemptions on the FAR.) and, as far as small businesses are concerned, they have lost respect and trust! As long as Agencies continue to ignore the law/regulations and cease using 'barriers,' they will not not increase, but discourage small businesses participation in the $700 Billion Federal marketplace. The Obama Administration 2009 decision to focus on 'outreach' - to increase contracting with small businesses - instead of on 'elimination of barriers' has been a total failure. (http://bit.ly/Lh3kfX) The only solution, at this point, is to bring transparency to contracting abusive practices - as The Umbrella Initiative has proposed. A public database of alleged instances of contracting abuse will bring public attention and internal pressure to cause the needed change. Raul Espinosa Founder and CEO - Fairness in Procurement Alliance Managing Partner - Umbrella Initiative

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