A story published yesterday in the Kansas City Star caught our attention. A 40 year old Marine service-disabled veteran who owns a commercial kitchen supply business in Michigan was unable to bid on two VA supply contracts due to restricted bidding. He has since filed a protest with the GAO claiming that the VA has failed to follow the “Veterans First” law, which establishes set aside guidelines for service-disabled veteran-owned small businesses. While the GAO has investigated and agreed with the protest’s claims, an internal memo from the VA dated October 17th makes the assertion that since the GAO is part of the legislative branch, the VA is not bound by their findings and that the courts would decide the issue.
The VA finds contractors primarily through the Federal Supply Schedule, making it very difficult for smaller or newer businesses to compete for VA contracts. Much like getting on the GSA, in order to get on the schedule, contractors must complete a lengthy and complicated application process and then be approved before they can start selling to the VA.
The irony and greatest insult is that this agency which was created to help veterans appears to be actively and knowingly shutting them out when it’s time to award government contracts.
The full story in the Kansas City Star can be read here.