Supreme Court to hear VA small business case
By Alice Lipowicz, editor, Set-Aside Alert
A dramatic showdown is shaping up before the U.S. Supreme Court that will decide to what degree the Veterans Affairs Department is obligated to give priority to veteran-owned small businesses to fulfill tens of thousands of its mission requirements.
The case is one of very few cases ever considered by the Supreme Court on the issue of federal small business contracting. Supporters of Kingdomware say if they prevail there will be many more opportunities for veteran-owned small firms, while the VA says a Kingdomware win would result in significant delays and increased costs for providing care to eight million veterans.
Under a 2006 law, the VA must put veteran-owned small businesses first in line in its contracting. The VA’s implementing regulations further set a first preference for service-disabled veterans and a second preference for veterans who are not service-disabled.
Since the law took effect, the VA has more than quadrupled its contracting with service-disabled veteran-owned small businesses (SDVOSBs) in recent years: from $830 million in fiscal 2007 to $3.6 billion in fiscal 2014.
The percentage of VA contracting with SDVOSBs also rose sharply, from 7% to nearly 19% during the period, far exceeding the government’s 3% goal.
However, Kingdomware Technologies Inc. has challenged the VA’s interpretation of its duties. In its brief before the Supreme Court, Kingdomware contends that Congress meant for the VA to perform research, and apply the Rule of Two, on every single contract, to determine if there are two or more veteran-owned small firms that are capable and eligible to fulfill the requirement. If there are, then the VA must set aside that contract for the vet-owned firms, its brief to the court states......
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