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A weekly look at Wyoming business questions from the Wyoming Small Business Development Center (WSBDC), part of WyomingEntrepreneur.Biz, a collection of business assistance programs at the University of Wyoming.
By Andrea Lewis, Wyoming Entrepreneur procurement specialist
“I’m confused about the VA’s Center for Veterans Enterprise (CVE) certification program. I think it’s also called the ‘Veterans First Contracting Program.’ Can’t I simply self-certify in the System for Award Management (SAM) as a veteran-owned company? Why would I want to get certified through the VA as a veteran-owned business?” Bea W., Muddy Gap
The short answer as to why you’d want to certify through the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) is that your company would then be eligible to participate in its Veterans First Contracting Program.
The VA has special authority for Service-Disabled Veteran-Owned Small Business/Veteran-Owned Small Business (SDVOSB/VOSB) set-aside and sole-source contracts through a public law. This procurement authority, and its subsequent implementation, is a logical extension of the VA’s mission, which is to care for our nation’s veterans.
The VA refers to this program as the Veterans First Contracting Program. The procurement hierarchy within the VA for open-market procurements places the highest priority with SDVOSB followed by VOSB. These are followed by 8(a), HUBZone, Woman-Owned Small Business, followed by all other small businesses.
If your company wants to be eligible for set-aside SDVOSB or VOSB contracts with the VA, you will need to get its certification. This is because the VA does not accept self-certifying in SAM as proof of being a veteran-owned company.
However, if you want to do business with other federal agencies, such as the Forest Service or the Bureau of Land Management, self-certifying in SAM is sufficient. Be aware that, if you self-certify, it is necessary to meet the same criteria that the VA uses in order to be a legitimate SDVOSB/VOSB business.
Verification is not a simple process. In 2012, approximately 58 percent of applications were denied. Analysis of the denial rates indicates a significant number were a result of misunderstanding of regulations. In an effort to reverse this trend and assist applicants with the verification process, the VA offers assistance through its website, online guides, webinars and a nationwide network of no-cost, CVE-certified verification assistance counselors.
Due to all of these efforts, as of March 2014, the denial rate for applications was 4 percent. The VA’s website for assistance is http://www.va.gov/osdbu/verification/assistance/.
All Wyoming Entrepreneur PTAC consultants are CVE-certified verification assistance counselors, so don’t hesitate to contact us if needed.
A blog version of this article and an opportunity to post comments are available at http://wyen.biz/blog1/.
The WSBDC is a partnership of the U.S. Small Business Administration, the Wyoming Business Council and the University of Wyoming. To ask a question, call 1-800-348-5194, email email@example.com or write 1000 E. University Ave., Dept. 3922, Laramie, WY, 82071-3922.