Since 2010, when the VA instituted its process to verify service-disabled, veteran-owned small businesses, we have received call after call from companies that have been denied verification. Denial, of course, can have a devastating effect. Without receiving verified status, a company cannot qualify for contracts set-aside by the VA for SDVOSB companies. Many times, when we receive these calls and then review the basis for denial, all we can do is shake our collective heads in disbelief. A simple phone call would have very likely paved the way to verified status. Instead, the company is stuck with attempting to fix the problem through the reconsideration process, which is uncertain and never quick, and must consider the distinct possibility that it will have to wait six (6) months from a final decision to reapply. This has raised the ire of many a veteran. Well, for those veterans who have advocated for change, help appears to be around the corner.
On Tuesday afternoon, Business Wire reported that on May 1, 2013, the VA will begin providing SDVOSB applicants the opportunity to correct “minor deficiencies” found in their documentation prior to a denial being issued. The idea is to add an element of common sense to the process and avoid denying applicants who really do deserve verification. The new process will work as follows:
Firms determined to have problematic issues that are easily corrected will be contacted by the Center for Veterans Enterprise and informed of CVE’s preliminary findings. The applicant will then have 48 hours to respond, indicating a willingness to correct the issues and provide revised documentation addressing the preliminary findings. As part of this new process, the applicant will be referred to verification-assistance counselors to enhance the probability that any deficiencies are overcome.
This is great news for our veterans and it is our understanding that other changes may be in the works. As we hear about what the VA intends to introduce, we will pass along that information to you.
Edward T. DeLisle is a Partner in the firm and a member of the Federal Contracting Practice Group.