The Department of Veterans Affairs takes the position that it is not obligated to consider veteran-owned businesses on goods and services it buys through GSA’s Federal Supply Schedule, and now the VA has a court decision that backs its stance.
On November 27, 2012, the U.S. Court of Federal Claims ruled that the VA has discretion to procure goods and services from GSA’s Federal Supply Schedule without first considering a set-aside acquisition for service-disabled veteran-owned small businesses (SDVOSBs) or veteran-owned small businesses (VOSBs) (Kingdomware Technologies, Inc. v. United States).
This ruling is a distinct departure from several recent U.S. Government Accountability Office decisions. The GAO has consistently ruled that the VA must comply with the Veterans Benefits, Health Care, and Information Technology Act of 2006 before conducting a GSA Schedule buy. The 2006 Act created the “Veterans First” contracting program that gives priority to SDVOSBs and VOSBs in VA acquisitions. The VA has maintained that the GAO’s interpretation of the 2006 Act was wrong and instructed its contracting officers to not apply the “Veterans First” principles to Schedule contracting.
The Kingdomware case represents the first time a court has ruled on the question of whether the GSA Schedule program is influenced by the terms of the “Veterans First” program.