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By Nick Wakeman

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Nick Wakeman

The next big contracting scandal, part 2

My latest entry predicting trouble ahead for service-disabled veteran-owned small businesses definitely struck a nerve, with people both lambasting me and supporting my position.

Upfront I want to say I made a couple of mistakes or improperly interpreted the laws creating the SDVOSB program.

I want to address those here. The 0 to 100 percent disability rating refers to the amount of compensation a disabled vet is due, not the degree a vet is disabled.

A zero rating doesn’t mean a person doesn’t have a disability; it only reflects the degree the disability impacts a person’s earning ability.

Several commenters took great offense at my zero rating statement in the blog. No insult was intended.

Also, a disability doesn’t have to occur in a combat zone but only during military service.

I also was criticized for how I characterized the self-certification process. The VETS contract and the Veterans Administration require certification documents to participate in their contracts.

I think my biggest mistake was one of omission. I should have clearly stated that I support the idea of veteran-owned businesses and I feel they deserve programs to help them build businesses. I think several commenters took my earlier post to mean that I was against vets, which I’m not.

Having said all this, I still stand by the basic premise of my blog. This is a contracting program with a lot of potential for unintended consequences, from companies getting an advantage they don’t deserve to outright fraud.

As one commenter put it, it is time to look beyond whether a veteran qualifies for the program. “It’s time we also looked at whether these laws actually benefit the people they were intended to help,” the commenter wrote.

On a positive note, I appreciate the passion behind the many comments. I think it shows how strongly veterans feel about serving their country, whether as members of the military or businessmen and -women selling goods and services to the government. It is one of the things that makes our country great.

I also appreciated some of the digs, from the commenter who wrote, "Nick, did you just wake up from a long nap?" to a comment forwarded to me from LinkedIn dubbing Washington Technology as Washington Technologically Disadvantaged. There is a long tradition in journalism of making fun of the name of your publication. I once worked for the Daily News-Record, which we affectionately called the Daily News-Wrecker.

But the bottom line is that I took all the comments very seriously and posted all of them on the website, and I've joined the LinkedIn group for SDVOSB to get better sense of the issues facing those businesses. This won't be the last time we write about these companies.

Posted by Nick Wakeman on Oct 26, 2010 at 9:43 AM

Reader Comments

Thu, Oct 28, 2010

The Center for Veteran Enterprise recently awarded a contract that provides verification to all Self-certified SDVOSB. This is similar to how the 8a program fixed their "scandal"

Thu, Oct 28, 2010 Al Saxon Maryland

I disagree with Nick in his statement that his biggest mistake was one of ommission. Regardless of your opinions regarding SDVOSB's, he had a responsibility to RESEARCH THE FACTS before he printed them. His article was damaging, despite the retraction, and he failed completely in his duty to research his topic before he put it out for the public to read. His actions were irresponsible, and sensational journalism at it's worst. Nick should be held accountable by this publication for his actions.

Wed, Oct 27, 2010 Mike

Nick, Thanks for your follow up. It's rare to read an even-handed op-ed piece. Here's my two cents. ALL government business is subject to abuse and scandal, and EVERY small business program with an acronym has run into trouble. Allowing self-certification increases the temptation to cheat and should be scrapped. The Department of Veterans Affairs CEV voluntary verification process won't make the SDVOSB program perfect, but it has already made it better. Veterans need support and this program needs outside supervision to prevent drift. Please keep watching and blogging - people are getting the message.

Wed, Oct 27, 2010 TOM

Nick glad you woke up but the damage is done! Already we are getting ridicule from large billion dollar firms' employees with whom we are trying to subcontract for very large bids quote "Zero Rating haha". Yes you need to do a great deal of Penance to all of us in the SDVOSB community who have been hurt by your poorly researched article. All the military services have been dragging their feet and not supporting the SDVOSB Program with some local exceptions but those in the Small Business Offices at Headquarters are openly against SDVOSBs. Write about the program and interview some company owners and ask them questions. Starting a new business is not easy and many veterans will fail if they try but inaccurate reporting just makes it harder.

Wed, Oct 27, 2010 Rob Vrigina Beach

This article is a great follow-on to the previous article and helps to set the record straight. Thanks for the admitting the mistakes.

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