Revising the Veterans Certification – Top to Bottom

WomenVeteransAccording to the Small Business Administration (SBA) veterans own nearly 10% of all small businesses and those veteran-owned businesses generate more than $1 trillion dollars in revenue each year. In order to qualify for federal contracting preferences at the Veterans Administration (VA), these businesses have to certify as a veteran owned business. The Veterans Administration calls this program “Veterans First.” Government-wide contracting programs give preferences to service disabled veteran owned businesses (SDVOBs) which are required to go through the certification process at the VA.

The Veterans Administration is asking for comments on a new set of changes for the Veteran Owned Small Business program (VOSB). Among many other changes, the proposal would alter the definition of a veteran, a caregiver, the verification requirements for a VOSB, and requirements for joint ventures.

First, the definition of “veteran” in the program is now consistent with a recent update to the VA’s overall definition of veteran. This means owners who served in the National Guard or in the Reserves are still only eligible to be an owner of VOSB or SDVOSB if they received a service-connected disability. The single definition of “veteran” is intended to create consistency when applying to all programs within the VA.

Veteran owners would be required to oversee “daily business operations,” replacing the terms “daily business management” and “day to day operations” in an effort to simplify the application process. In addition, references to spouses and personal caretakers are removed, replaced by “permanent caretaker” to more clearly define a single role aiding the service-disabled owner. A letter outlining the service-disabled veteran’s disability and the need for the permanent caregiver must be included in order to qualify. The VOSB application process, which was required annually, would be expanded to last for two years if the proposed rule was adopted.

Last, language on VSOB joint ventures has been clarified, requiring at least one joint partner be a verified VOSB. Additionally, the same project and time restrictions that apply to other set-aside programs have been added. All these changes, and more, can be viewed and commented on here.

If you have an opinion on the VA certification, now is the time to submit them. Your comments will make a difference – agencies receive every submission and carefully review them.

Remarkable Advances For Women Business Owners

By Jake Clabaugh, WIPP Government Relations

Annual Mtg 2014 - #2The U.S. Census Bureau Survey of Business Owners (SBO) showed impressive expansion for women-owned businesses. The survey’s latest data, released in August, showed nearly 10 million women-owned firms in the United States. This represents a 27% improvement from the survey’s last results in 2007. In the long term, the number of women-owned companies has increased over 50% since the survey showed 6.5 million firms in 2002.

This growth in women-owned firms is an encouraging economic indicator. Just as important, this progress occurred during the largest recession since the Great Depression. It stands as a testament to the resilience and entrepreneurial spirit of our country’s female business owners.

The SBO is an important tool for assessing the state and growth of businesses, particularly women-owned. The Census Bureau describes this survey as providing “the only source of detailed and comprehensive data on the status, nature, and scope of women-, minority-, and veteran-owned businesses.” While only the preliminary findings have been released, it provides an important preview of the more comprehensive data that will be made available later this year. The complete dataset will include more specified demographic breakdowns of firm ownership characteristics, including women-, minority- and veteran-owned businesses as well as revenues, size, industry-classification data, and geographic information.

It is imperative to use the most complete, comprehensive, and timely data to structure reasoned, directed policy initiatives and make informed decisions, thus, we are looking forward to having the complete survey data later this year. It will be an invaluable tool for guiding our policy direction moving forward, educating government entities and providing useful comparisons for individual firms. We whole-heartedly expect the full dataset to reveal many more successes.