The Office of Small and Disadvantaged Business Utilization (OSDBU) of the Dept. of Veterans Affairs (VA) has published an Advanced Notice of Proposed Rulemaking (ANPR) seeking comments to “improve the regulations to provide greater clarity, to streamline the program, and to encourage more VOSBs to apply for verification.”
VOSBs are veteran-owned small businesses, including service-disabled veteran-owned small businesses (SDVOSBs).
According to the ANPR, the VA is seeking to “find an appropriate balance between preventing fraud in the Veterans First Contracting Program and providing a process that would make it easier for more VOSBs to become verified.”
The VA’s initiatives on behalf of VOSBs have been both lauded and criticized. Early in the VOSB program, critics charged that the standards were lax, resulting in fraudulent misrepresentations by firms not truly owned or controlled by veterans. In separate investigations, both the Government Accountability Office (GAO) and the VA’s Office of Inspector General (IG) found numerous instances of fraud. In seeking to take corrective action however, the VA currently is subjected to much criticism by veterans themselves who complain that the verification procedures are onerous and hard to understand. Under current rules, legitimate VOSB who have been rejected by the VA must wait six months before reapplying for verification.
In response, the VA is now considering ways to improve the VOSB Verification Guidelines. The VA has already collected suggestions from a wide range of sources for changes to the regulations, and has compiled them into a single document. This compilation document and the existing regulations can both be found at http://www.va.gov/osdbu/veteran/vapVAB.asp
The VA invites public comments on the ideas offered in the compilation document as well as on eight specific questions posed in the ANPR.
The Georgia Tech Procurement Assistance Center (GTPAC) encourages all VOSBs and SDVOSBs to read the ANPR and submit comments, ideas and suggestions. You can download the two-page ANPR here: Advanced Notice of Proposed Rulemaking – VOSB Verification Guidelines – 38CFR Part 74.
Comments are due by July 12, 2013.