A Final Rule governing Service Disabled Veteran-Owned small Business Concerns (“SDVOSB”) was published in the Federal Register on February 8, 2010. This law requires the Department of Veterans Affairs (“VA”) to verify ownership and control of veteran-owned small businesses, including service-disabled veteran-owned small businesses. The final rule also defines the eligibility requirements for businesses to obtain “verified” status, explains examination procedures, and establishes records retention and review processes.

As reported by Jason Miller, the Executive Director of Federal News Radio in an article published in the SDVOSB Blog, Veteran-Owned and Service Disabled Veteran-Owned Small Businesses must have only one business in the federal contract set-aside program and work in that business full time. The article, entitled “VA Sets Rules for Set-Aside Program,” also emphasizes that “The net effect of this change is that a company that is closely held by veterans would qualify regardless of the size of the employee stock ownership program,” and “Alternatively, a firm that is not closely held by veterans will find it much more difficult to qualify for the Verification Program.”

Veteran-Owned and Service Disabled Veteran-Owned Small Businesses must re-certify annually to the VA that they meet the requirements to obtain set-aside contracts from agencies. The rule comes after the Government Accountability Office told the House Veterans Affairs Committee in December that the service-disabled veteran-owned business program is vulnerable to fraud and abuse. Anyone who seeks to use the services of a disabled veteran, or of an existing SDVOSB, to circumvent the letter and spirit of this program would be well advised to recognize that SDVOSB concerns are under close scrutiny because of the reported abuses.

Michael Payne is a Partner and is the Chairman of the firm’s Federal Practice Group.