Last week VA was recognized by the Small Business Administration with a rating of “A” on its Small Business Scorecard for its success in contracting with small businesses. Most of the credit has focused on VA’s Office of Small and Disadvantaged Business Utilization (OSDBU) which in the past few years have increased collaboration with other VA acquisition professionals to achieve better results in providing opportunities to our veteran small businesses.
Looking at this achievement the rating of “A” should be expected from the Veterans Affairs Department. The VA gets funded billions of dollars to support our warrior in all areas of their life to include veteran small business support procurement programs. One of the most recent members of this protected class of business owners is the Service-Disabled Veteran Owned Small Business (SDVOSB). These are citizens that not only served our country, but at some point of their career sacrificed again with health issues that can be attributed to their military service. That is not an easy thing to put a price on, but we have done exactly that by establishing goals to provide these business owners with opportunities to win government contracts. The current government-wide statutory goal for contract awarded to SDVOSB is 3 percent of all government agency procurement.
In 2001 this class of veteran businesses received .2% of government contracts in 2005, they would have won .5% of these contracts and in 2009 they met 1.2% of these contracts a total of 1% growth in competing for government contracts in nearly a decade. Of the 7.4 billion appropriated to the Defense Department in Recovery Act funds, $157 million was awarded to SDVOSB. The acting director for the Pentagon’s Small Business Committee, Linda B. Oliver credits the Pentagon’s Mentor-Protégé Program and other training opportunities geared toward such contractors for the positive trend. The program helps “protégé” companies learn from established “prime” contractors through a three- or four-year agreement. “As a result, protégé firms that graduate from the program are generally valuable additions to the department’s supplier base,” she added.
Unfortunately, this program that was praised in June 2010 was suspended for new applications in Aug 2010. According to the Office of Small and Disadvantaged Business Utilization the Mentor-Protégé agreement (MPP) is not accepting applications. The reason they have given was due to the high level interest in the MPP program. It is notable that VA has continued to lead the rest of other federal government procurement programs in providing contract opportunities to SDVOSB companies, but at a 1% growth every 10 years it will take another 25 years before we meet the moderate goal of 3% contract appropriation for our most important protected class of small businesses.