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By Nick Wakeman

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Nick Wakeman

VA looks for small businesses with Saleforce chops

The Veterans Affairs Department wants to create a contract to buy Salesforce solutions but first they need to see if a small business can provide the application.

Specifically, the VA is collecting data to see if there are any service-disabled, veteran-owned small businesses or veteran-owned small businesses that hold Salesforce Partner Certification at the "Silver" level or higher.

The VA says companies responding to the sources sought notice must include a letter from Salesforce to confirm they have the Silver or higher certification.

Few details are in the RFI on how the VA wants to use the Salesforce platform. Right now they are just looking to determine if there is a pool of small businesses with the capabilities they need.

The VA is required to use veteran-owned and service-disabled, veteran-owned for nearly all of its contracts if they can find at least two small businesses.

The so-called rule of two is mandatory for VA because the 2006 Veterans Benefits, Health Care and IT Act uses the word “shall” instead of “may.”

That distinction was part of a court case that went to the Supreme Court, which ruled that the use of the word “shall” meant that the contract must be set aside if the VA found two or more veteran-owned or service-disabled, veteran-owned small business capable of doing the work.

The VA had argued that it as long as it was meeting its contracting goals, it had the discretion of when to use a veteran-owned small business.

In a unanimous decision, the Supreme Court said that “shall” means VA has to conduct market research to determine if there is a veteran-owned business that can do the work. If not, then it can be competed as unrestricted.

I’ve heard many small business advocates urge small firms to respond to RFIs even if they feel they are a long shot to ultimately win. Responding helps the overall small business community because it shows there is a pool of companies capable of doing the work.

So get your response ready if you are a veteran-owned or service-disabled, veteran-owned business and you have a Salesforce Silver certification. The deadline is March 2.

Posted by Nick Wakeman on Feb 23, 2018 at 8:04 AM

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