In the coming year, the Small Business Administration will undertake a significant project: confirming the veteran-owned status of small companies applying for federal government contracts.
Beginning on January 9, the SBA will accept applications for its Veteran Small Business Certification (VetCert) programme, which certifies newly founded small businesses that are owned by veterans.
According to the National Defense Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2021, the organisation is taking over the Department of Veterans Affairs’ handling of this activity.
According to Larry Stubblefield, the deputy associate administrator of the SBA’s Office of Government Contracting & Business Development, veteran-owned small companies had to prove their eligibility before the FY 2021 NDAA in order to bid on non-VA contracts.
In an interview on Monday, Stubblefield said, “We are taking efforts to end self-certification in federal contracts for veterans by transferring the responsibility over to SBA and establishing a federal governmentwide certification programme.
The Veteran Owned Small Business (VOSB) and Service Disabled Veteran Owned Small Business (SDVOSB) Status Verification Hub will be the SBA’s VetCert programme (SDVOSBs).
Eligible suppliers may compete for sole-source and set-aside federal contracts under both classes.
VA sole-source and set-aside contracts are open to certified veteran-owned small companies, whereas sole-source and set-aside contracts for the entire federal government are open to certified service-disabled veteran-owned small businesses.
In fiscal 2021, federal agencies spent $25 billion on SDVOSBs under government contracts.
To launch the VetCert programme, SBA is transferring around 2.2 million records from VA. But it’s also expanding and bringing over the VA team that conducted this job.
The organisation hired seven more people in addition to bringing over 13 former VA personnel. Additionally, it hired more than 50 contractors who had previously worked with VA to process applications and staff its phone centre.
The VA’s certification management system was not moved by SBA. Instead, the organisation is consolidating all of its lending and certification programmes onto a single, digital platform called MySBA.
“At SBA, we are aware that we must take action in this situation. And that is the correct thing to do when you consider the customer experience, according to Stubblefield.
The MySBA platform’s initial certification programme, VetCert, is scheduled to be completely operational by the spring of 2024. HUBZone accreditation is being considered by SBA, according to Stubblefield, as the second programme to move to the new platform.
It will enable students to access all of our programmes through a single platform, get their paperwork, register, and arrive through a single gateway, according to Stubblefield.
Stubblefield claimed that by consolidating all of its programmes onto a single website, qualified small companies will be able to apply for multiple certifications without having to re-enter data that the SBA should already have on file.
A seasoned [small company] owner submits an application for a certification, possibly their women-owned small business certification. They intend to apply for their HUBZone designation in the coming year or two, according to Stubblefield. Although it appears that we are running different businesses and offices, all of our financing and certification programmes will now be one.
While creating the MySBA platform, SBA sponsored numerous listening sessions with the veteran community and invited veterans to watch how they used the interface.
This programme was created with input from the veteran small business community at every stage, according to Stubblefield.
The SBA sees MySBA as a chance to increase the number of veterans who work on federal contracts. The SAM.gov website of the General Services Administration hosts a self-certification database of almost 21,000 veteran-owned small businesses.
“We’re aiming to grow those numbers and our pool of federal contractors through the use of technology and MySBA,” Stubblefield said.
Only new veteran-owned small companies’ certification requests are currently handled by the SBA.
Veterans Administration Center for Verification and Evaluation (CVE)-verified veteran small enterprises have been given a one-time, one-year extension as of January 1, 2023.
The VetCert programme, according to the SBA and VA, exemplifies the Biden administration’s dedication to enhancing the customer experience in government through interagency cooperation.
Because of their owners’ selfless devotion to the country, small companies owned by veterans are entitled to important benefits and well-deserved support, according to a statement from VA Secretary Denis McDonough. “Certification is a crucial step in that process, so I urge all qualified veterans to start submitting their verification applications to the Small Business Administration right away.”
SBA Administrator Isabella Casillas Guzman stated that the agency’s “commitment to providing extraordinary support for our skilled entrepreneurs from America’s military community” is reflected in the SBA’s new veteran small business certification programme.
Guzman stated, “Supporting these Veteran entrepreneurs with access to government contracting will ensure they can continue to provide valuable service to the American people, whether working in manufacturing, retail, R&D, or helping us build critically needed infrastructure to promote America’s long-term growth, job creation, and wealth generation.