Continuing our look at new legislation affecting small business federal contractors, including small construction businesses, today we’ll discuss two bills that impact specially certified contractors, as well as one about mentorship and support for business owners.
This bill transfers responsibility for verifying the status of service-disabled veteran-owned small businesses from the Department of Veterans Affairs to the Small Business Administration (SBA), in order to improve efficiency, transparency and uniformity in the processes.
The fact is, while VA has been executing this responsibility, companies have waited an enormous amount of time to get certification, and have also had a hard time when trying to renew. The VA has enough troubles right now so moving this responsibility away from them at this time is very good news.
Because they are seemingly so over-sensitive to the potential for fraud, the VA has difficulty processing high volumes of information. The Center for Veterans Enterprise (CVE) verification process takes more than 5-6 times the number of staff SBA uses for both HUBZone and 8(a) verifications combined.
SBA isn’t guaranteed to be better, but frankly they can’t be worse. It’s already part of their day-to-day service, administering the 8(a) and HUB-Zone programs, and this will centralize the small business management programs within one agency.
Some service-disabled veteran business owners may be concerned, thinking they will get more sympathy and understanding from the VA, but in reality that hasn’t been the case. There are a legion of stories throughout the service-disabled business community of people spending thousands of dollars on legal fees, fighting the VA on what I consider to be harassment actions, asking for more and more data for no given reason.
This bill will standardize sole source authorities among the SBA’s procurement programs in order to promote parity.
This is amazingly needed, in my opinion. Because the SBA resisted having any kind of meaningful program for women for years, many inequities have been perpetuated between men and women business owners, e.g., woman-owned small businesses don’t have sole-source authority, and their contracting limits for set-asides were just recently raised in the NDAA 2013. Before that they were smaller than all other set-aside programs.
This bill ensures that the SBDCs are able to continue providing entrepreneurial development services and education to small businesses. While there is a lot of duplication between these SBDCs, PTACs and the SCORE program, each do have their own unique role.
Procurement Technical Assistance Centers (PTACs) provide information about opportunities to help you directly get business. The Service Corps of Retired Executives (SCORE) program is a volunteer mentoring program, and SBDCs do a similar type of mentoring on a more formalized basis.
There’s much more to be done, but this is a good start.