Congressman Joe Courtney today wrote to Secretary of Defense Leon Panetta to express concern with the Pentagon's effort to set aside contracts for companies owned by disabled veterans. According to a report from the Department of Defense Inspector General, a sample of 27 contracts from FY2010 found $340.3 million in work was awarded to contractors "who potentially misstated" their company's eligibility for the federal contracting set-aside program for service-disabled veteran owned small businesses (SDVOSB).
Rep. Courtney has worked to ensure that contracts intended for SDVOSBs went to veteran-owned businesses. To that end, in the 111th Congress he introduced H.R. 6022, the Veteran-Owned Small Business Contracting Fairness Act, which would have required the Secretary of Veterans Affairs to verify that businesses were owned and controlled by veterans or service-disabled veterans before they could be included in the Department's database of businesses eligible for federal contracts. The Veterans Benefits Act of 2010 (Public Law 111-275), which he supported and is now law, included a similar requirement that those seeking contracting opportunities set aside for service disabled veterans be first verified as being eligible.
In his letter today to Sec. Panetta, Courtney wrote: "[The] report states that procedures to verify that recipients were eligible for these set-aside contacts "were not adequate' and that "if the office does not establish adequate procedures, it will continue to convey the message that assisting service- disabled veterans is not a priority.' The report added that "the lack of action compromises the integrity and intention of the program, which is to serve veterans with disabilities incurred or aggravated in the line of duty.'
"I am deeply concerned about this report and the lack of adequate controls in the department's awarding of set-asides under the law established by Congress to give those individuals who have been wounded in service to their country a fair chance at federal contracting opportunities."