Many of you are already familiar with the Department of Veterans Affairs’ Vets First Program. That program, created in 2006 through the enactment of the Veterans Benefits, Health Care and Information Technology Act of 2006, allows the VA to set-aside certain contracts for SDVOSB and VOSB concerns. The intent of the VA’s Vets First program is “to increase contracting opportunities for small business concerns owned and controlled by veterans with service-connected disabilities.” This goal is accomplished by favoring SDVOSB and VOSB companies over other disadvantaged groups when the VA sets aside a procurement for small business. In its first seven years, the program has resulted in tens of millions of dollars in contracts for SDVOSB and VOSB companies.
Clearly recognizing the many benefits of the VA’s program, Congress is looking to expand it. On June 14, 2013, Rep. Michael Fitzpatrick (R- Penn.) introduced, and the House unanimously passed, an amendment to the National Defense Authorization Act of 2013. If enacted, this amendment would require the Department of Defense to perform a study analyzing the potential benefits of adopting its own “Vets First” Program. The amendment directs DoD to work with the SBA and the VA for purposes of developing a report detailing “the impacts of Department of Defense contracting with [VOSBs and SDVOSBs] on veteran entrepreneurship and veteran unemployment,” among other things. First, however, the bill must gain Senate approval. SDVOSB contracting has received much attention over the last several years, so it will be interesting to see what happens in the Senate. We will keep you posted on the progress of the amendment.
Edward T. DeLisle is a Partner in the firm and a member of the Federal Contracting Practice Group.
Maria L. Panichelli is an Associate in the firm’s Federal Practice Group.