WASHINGTON, DC – Last night, the House of Representatives passed Congressman Neal Dunn’s (FL-02) legislation to expand government contracts for small businesses owned by veterans and ensure the Department of Veterans Affairs is complying with federal law. The Ensuring Veteran Enterprise Participation in Strategic Sourcing Act requires the VA to work with the General Services Administration (GSA) to ensure that small businesses owned by veterans are given preference in government contracts.
“We will forever be in debt to our nation’s heroes, which is why we should be doing all that we can to ensure they are taken care of when they come home. This legislation is a common sense solution to a problem that is depriving veterans the opportunities they deserve,” Dr. Dunn said. “We need to hold the VA accountable to the veterans it serves and this legislation does just that.”
The legislation is supported by leading veteran service organizations such as the Veterans of Foreign Wars and the American Legion.
Yesterday, Dr. Dunn took to the House floor to encourage his colleagues to support his veterans legislation, H.R. 2781, the Ensuring Veteran Enterprise Participation in Strategic Sourcing Act:
H.R. 2781 is a common sense solution to a complicated problem. I am proud to sponsor it with my good friend Mr. Panetta from California. Over 10 years ago, Congress gave veteran- and service disabled veteran-owned small businesses the highest preference to compete for VA contracts. Last year, the Supreme Court ruled in the Kingdomware case that this preference applies in all situations, even when VA uses contracts awarded by other agencies.
A loophole has emerged in a group of contracts called the Federal Strategic Sourcing Initiative run by the General Services Administration. Currently, the VA uses the GSA to connect them with suppliers of certain goods and services they need to purchase. All too often, GSA is not connecting the VA with enough small businesses owned by veterans and service-disabled veterans. The law requires VA to look for these companies and buy from them when it finds them. But when veteran businesses are not there, VA cannot find them.
Because of the loophole, well qualified veteran owned companies are being passed over. In some cases, VA disregards the GSA contracts and finds veteran owned companies elsewhere, but it wastes resources by creating contracts similar to what GSA already has in place.
The bill simply directs the VA Secretary to determine whether veteran-owned and service disabled veteran-owned small businesses are sufficiently represented on the contracts for VA to follow the law. If not, VA must consult with GSA to increase their representation on all the contracts and their subcategories. Should this not be possible on a particular contract or subcategory, VA must stop using it.
We need to hold the VA accountable to the veterans it serves—including our veteran and service-disabled veteran small business owners. It is the right thing to do, and I urge all Members to support it.
Thank you Mr. Speaker, I yield back.