Today, Dr. Neal Dunn (FL-02) introduced the Ensuring Veteran Enterprise Participation in Strategic Sourcing Act, legislation to increase government contracts for veteran-owned small businesses and ensure the VA is complying with federal law.
The Veterans Benefits, Health Care and Information Technology Act of 2006 requires the Department of Veterans Affairs to give veteran-owned small businesses preferences in the agency’s contracting, but a loophole emerged that denied veterans this benefit.
The VA contracts directly with vendors for major purchases and projects, but like most federal agencies, it buys routine office supplies and services through a General Services Administration (GSA) portal called the Federal Strategic Sourcing Initiative. GSA does not have the same mandate to give a preference to veteran-owned firms, and consequently, there are too few veteran-owned businesses available in the portal for the VA to use. This creates a loophole where veteran-owned small businesses do not receive the preference granted to them by federal law and subsequently confirmed by the Supreme Court in the 2016 Kingdomware decision.
Dr. Dunn’s legislation would close this loophole by directing the VA to work with GSA to increase the number of veteran-owned small businesses doing business with the GSA – and thereby, the VA. Since all federal agencies use the Federal Strategic Sourcing Initiative, increasing the number of veteran-owned businesses participating in the portal will expand their opportunities with the rest of the government.
“The VA should be actively and aggressively looking for opportunities to serve our veterans. This legislation will hold the VA accountable for seeking out veteran-owned small businesses for contracting opportunities as Congress intended,” said Dr. Dunn. “We will forever be indebted to our veterans. This is one way for us to ensure we support those who have faithfully served this nation.”
“The Department of Veterans Affairs must do everything in its power to honor its commitment to support service-disabled veteran and veteran-owned small businesses. I thank Rep. Dunn for his leadership to close this loophole that is denying veterans the opportunities the Supreme Court ruled they are entitled to in the Kingdomware decision,” said House Veterans’ Affairs Chairman Phil Roe.
Since coming to Congress, Dr. Dunn has been working to increase opportunities for veterans. Earlier this year, Dr. Dunn wrote to President Trump and urged him to increase support for veteran-owned small businesses. The letter highlights opportunities for the federal government to give preferences to veterans and asks the Administration to set ambitious contracting targets.
Dr. Dunn is a member of the House Committee on Veterans’ Affairs and served 11 years as a surgeon in the U.S. Army.