For The Tribune-Democrat
If you’re a service-disabled veteran who currently owns or is considering starting a small business, you already have a ready market of customers waiting to hear about what you can offer.
Thanks to the Veterans Entrepreneurship and Small Business Development Act of 1999, at least 3 percent of all federal agencies’ prime contracts and subcontracts must be awarded to businesses owned or controlled by service-disabled veterans.
In addition, Executive Order 13360, issued in 2004, requires that federal procurement officials and prime contractors provide small businesses owned and controlled by veterans or service-disabled veterans with the maximum practicable opportunity to participate in the performance of contracts let by any federal agency, including subcontracts.
Before pursuing these opportunities, however, you need to be sure you and your business are eligible.
A service-disabled veteran must have a DD Form 214 verifying his or her medical discharge, plus a letter of adjudication from the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs.
While there is no minimum disability rating, the small business must be at least 51 percent owned by one or more eligible veterans.
In addition, these service-disabled veterans must also control the firm’s management and daily business operations. (In the case of a service-disabled veteran with a permanent and severe disability, the spouse or permanent caregiver may fulfill this role.)
There is no formal certification process required for a service-disabled veteran-owned small business to obtain federal contracts. However, the business must first be registered in the federal government’s Central Contractor Registration system (www.ccr.gov) before any contract may be awarded.
Each federal agency may also have specific registration requirements.
To do business with the Depart-
ment of Veterans Affairs, for example, businesses must register at www.vetbiz.gov.
For Department of Defense service-disabled veteran contractors, there’s www.acq.osd.mil/osbp/programs/
As with most other types of federal procurements for goods and services, contracts are awarded to service-disabled veteran-owned small businesses through a sole-source award or a set-aside award based on competition restricted to these firms. In other words, the pool of applicants may be limited, but you must still demonstrate your ability to fulfill the contract’s specific requirements, and offer the best value to the government in order to receive the award.
If this sounds like a complicated process, relax. There are plenty of resources available to help service-disabled veterans position their small businesses for federal contracting opportunities.
For example, the U.S. Small Business Administration offers a free, in-depth course, Business Opportunities: A Guide to Winning Federal Contracts, through its online Small Business Training Network (www.sba.gov/training).
There are also helpful tips and training resources at vetbiz.gov and other agency-specific sites.
A great go-to resource for small business advice and assistance for all veterans – and civilians – is SCORE. Offering training, resources and free, confidential counseling from more than 13,000 business experts, SCORE is committed to helping all aspiring entrepreneurs achieve their small-business dreams.
SCORE is a nonprofit organization formed to help small businesses. To learn more about the Cambria-Somerset chapter of SCORE, call 536-5107, visit www.alleghanies.scorechapter.org or email firstname.lastname@example.org.
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