Senator Jim Webb (D-VA), a member of the Senate Veterans Affairs Committee, called on Veteran Affairs (VA) Secretary Eric Shinseki to take further steps to address ongoing delays and problems with the VA verification program for service-disabled veteran-owned small businesses (SDVOSB).
"In recent months, my office has received a significant number of letters from Virginia constituents expressing the problems they encounter during the re-verification process," Senator Webb wrote in a letter to Secretary Shinseki last week. "Specifically, individuals are experiencing lengthy processing times; concerns with the maintenance of supporting documents, including lost paperwork; and erroneous decisions."
In 2011, VA awarded $3.2 billion in contracts to veteran-owned and service-disabled veteran-owned small businesses. To compete for these contracts, small businesses must verify they are owned and operated by qualified veterans and meet other legal requirements. Since VA's verification program began in 2008, many applicants have had trouble properly demonstrating that their company complies with the definition of a SDVOSB. Acknowledging problems with the program, VA recently extended the re-verification requirement from every year to every two years.
"I am sure you share my concern over the considerable and often devastating financial hardships such delays and problems cause a SDVOSB," wrote Senator Webb. "I encourage you to continue to evaluate the system to ensure the needs of our veterans are being served."
A recent Bloomberg News article tells the story of one of the many service-disabled veteran-owned small businesses owners who have contacted Senator Webb's office for assistance on this issue: http://www.bloomberg.com/news/2012-07-20/navy-seal-shot-in-afghanistan-loses-chance-to-bid-on-va-work.html.
Additional information on the VA program can be found at www.vetbiz.gov.