In the latest turn of the screw in an ongoing battle between the Department of Veterans Affairs and members of the small business community, a non-profit association sued the agency and its secretary for alleged failure to comply with existing laws that require veteran-owned small businesses to receive priority in all contract awards.
Service Disabled Veteran Owned Small Business Network Inc. in Pleasanton, Calif., filed a Dec. 6 complaint on behalf of its members in a California district court, claiming that the VA violated the 2006 Veterans, Benefits, Health Care and Information Technology Act and the Veterans First Contracting Program, both of which mandate that the agency set aside contract opportunities for veteran-owned small businesses when at least two such businesses are qualified to meet the requirements.
The complaint pointed to the VA’s refusal to comply with recommendations made by the Government Accountability Office in an Oct. 11 protest decision, which stated that the agency violated the law when it failed to set aside two contract solicitations for service-disabled, veteran-owned small businesses. The watchdog agency recommended that the veterans agency cancel and reissue the solicitations as set-aside contracts, a move the VA opted to ignore — claiming the requirement did not apply to acquisitions made under the General Service Administration’s contract schedules.
“The president of the association has been leading a grass roots movement to challenge the VA’s application of the Veterans First program for over a year,” said Timothy Power, the attorney representing the association, in an email to Washington Business Journal. His firm, Power Law Office in Sonoma, Calif., provides legal services to small business contractors. “Recently she has been raising money to support the filing of a suit in California to enjoin the VA from ignoring the program.”
The lawsuit comes one week after two House subcommittees held a hearing on the topic, questioning VA officials about the decision to ignore the GAO recommendation.
— by Jill R. Aitoro, Senior Staff Reporter, Washington Business Journal, Dcc. 7, 2011 at http://www.bizjournals.com/washington/blog/fedbiz_daily/2011/12/california-association-sues-va-for.html.