DoD could develop “Vets First” contracting program

Awaiting U.S. Senate approval is a bill passed by the House of Representatives this summer that would require the Department of Defense (DoD) to take steps toward the development of a contracting program, patterned after a program developed by the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA), designed to increase contract awards to veteran-owned small businesses (VOSBs).

Back in June, Rep. Michael Fitzpatrick of Pennsylvania introduced, and the House unanimously passed, an amendment to the National Defense Authorization Act of 2013.   If approved by the Senate and signed into law, the DoD will be required, as a first step, to perform a study analyzing the potential benefits of adopting its own “Vets First” program.   DoD would work with the VA and the Small Business Administration (SBA) to develop a report detailing what impact contract set-asides for VOSBs would have on issues like veteran entrepreneurship and veteran unemployment.

If this law is implemented, it is presumed that DoD would develop a program similar to the VA’s Vets First Program.  Created in 2006, through the enactment of the Veterans Benefits, Health Care and Information Technology Act of 2006, Vets First allows the VA to designate (“set aside”) certain contracts exclusively for VOSB and service-disabled veteran-owned small business (SDVOSB) concerns.  The VA’s Vets First program favors VOSB and SDVOSB companies over other disadvantaged groups when the VA sets aside a procurement for small business.  In its first seven years, the program has resulted in the award of tens of millions of dollars in contracts for VOSB and SDVOSB companies.

The Georgia Tech Procurement Assistance Center (GTPAC) will follow this story and will keep GTPAC clients advised of any developments.