Government Contractor Programs for Veteran-Owned Small Businesses
Government Business Development | 6 Min Read
The federal government offers a lot of support for small businesses looking to enter the public sector. This includes small businesses owned by women, economically disadvantaged businesses, and veteran-owned businesses. Here at Winvale, we have several clients who are Veteran-Owned Small Businesses (VOSBs), and that’s why we want to acknowledge resources available to these businesses as they navigate the federal marketplace. The General Services Administration (GSA) and the Small Business Administration (SBA) are among several federal administrations that promote veteran entrepreneurship, and it’s important you take advantage of these resources if you are a veteran business and a GSA Schedule contractor.
Veteran-Owned Small Business Programs Under the SBA and GSA
The SBA and GSA have several programs designated to assisting Veteran-Owned Small Businesses as they integrate into the federal marketplace. Though they overlap in many ways, they also differ. Under the SBA, there is the Office of Veterans Business Development (OVBD) which is exclusively dedicated to supporting Veteran-Owned Small Businesses and veteran entrepreneurship. The OVBD provides veterans access to capital and preparation for small business opportunities. It also connects veteran business owners to the federal market and commercial supply chains, giving them access to the best prices on the market.
The Small Business Administration offers a series of customer curriculums, offered both in person and online, that help assist veterans in entrepreneurial success. These are not specific to the federal marketplace but are based on the fundamentals of business ownership and resources available specifically for veteran related small businesses. Most of these programs are funded through grants with the intention to help formally train individuals in entrepreneurship and small businesses. These programs are inclusive to women veterans, service-disabled veterans, military spouse entrepreneurs, and veterans at large.
For the interest of GSA, the Veteran Federal Procurement Entrepreneurship Program specializes in training for Veteran-Owned and Service-Disabled Veteran-Owned businesses nationwide in pursuing, or already engaged in federal procurement.
Qualifications for Becoming a Veteran-Owned Small Business (VOSB)
If you are a contractor or prospective contractor and think you qualify as a Veteran-Owned Small Business, you must go through the self-certifying process to become eligible. This self-certification must be done within your Small Business Profile, in the Systems for Award Management Record or SAM.gov. Once your status is awarded, marketing collateral, capabilities statements, and forms on government websites should display your company’s status. This also allows you to sell to federal agencies with your Veteran-Owned Small Business status.
The Service-Disabled Veteran-Owned Small Business (SDVOSB) Program
Under the SBA, there are two veteran support related programs: The Service-Disabled Veteran-Owned Small Business (SDVOSB) Program and the Federal Surplus Personal Property Donation Program. We’ll discuss the Service-Disabled Veteran-Owned Small Business Program first.
The federal government establishes formal goals to make sure that all small businesses are getting their fair share of work in the federal market. To do so, the federal government awards about 10% of all federal contract dollars, or roughly $50 billion in contracts, to Small Disadvantaged Businesses. There are four categories of small businesses set-asides that qualify for these benefits, one of which being Service-Disabled Veteran-Owned Small Businesses.
Qualifications for the Service-Disabled Veteran-Owned Small Business Program
Before we continue with the benefits your small business gets under this program, let’s make sure your company fits within the parameters to qualify. To qualify for the Service-Disabled Veteran-Owned Small Business Program, your business must
- Qualify as a small business.
- Be at least 51% owned and controlled by one or more service-disable veterans.
- Have one or more service-disabled veterans manage day-to-day operations and make long terms decisions.
- Eligible veterans must have a service-connected disability.
If you are still not sure if you qualify, the full requirements can be found in Title 13 Part 125 Subpart B of the Code of Federal Regulations.
Benefits Awarded to Service-Disabled Veteran-Owned Small Businesses
The federal government aims to award at least 3% of all federal contracting dollars to Service-Disabled Veteran-Owned Small Businesses each year. Contracts in general are inherently competitive, having a designated budget within the federal government already sets your contract up for success.
In congruence, the government limits competition for certain contracts to businesses that participate in the Service-Disabled Veteran-Owned Small Business Program. While someone under this program is welcome to compete for contract awards under qualifying socio-economic programs, you may also compete for set aside contracts.
The Department of Veteran Affairs awards a large sum of contracts to veterans each year. They have their own program independent of the small business administration through their Veterans First Contracting Program designated for veteran set asides. To get access to the Veterans First Contracting Program, your business must be verified through the Vets First Verification Program.
The Federal Surplus Personal Property Donation Program
Veteran-Owned Small Businesses also have access to federally owned personal property through GSA’s Federal Surplus Personal Property Donation Program. This property was once federally owned personal property that is no longer being used. GSA oversees the reuse and donation of federal personal property. GSA runs this in conjunction with the State Agency for Surplus Property (SASP). Veteran-Owned Small Businesses get federal surplus property from SASP in the state where the property will be primarily located and used. However, there are contingencies to obtaining this property. Your Veteran-Owned Small Business must:
- Be located and operated within the state.
- Be unconditionally owned and controlled by one or more eligible veterans, service-disabled veterans, or surviving spouses.
- Be registered and is in “verified” status in the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs’ (VA) VETS First Verification Program database.
- Will use the property in the normal conduct of its business activities (personal or non-business use is prohibited).
- Will not sell, transfer, loan, lease, encumber or otherwise dispose of the property during the period of restriction unless it has received express written authorization from SASP, GSA, and SBA.
- Will get permission from the donating SASP before permanently removing the property from the state.
- Will use the property as intended within one year of receipt.
- Will maintain its VOSB eligibility with VA and SASP for the duration of the applicable federal period of restriction for donated property.
- Will give SBA, GSA, and/or SASP access to inspect the property and all pertinent records.
You must also state in writing that if your VOSB violates any of the requirements agreed to, it must return the property to the donating SASP at your expense. If you still have questions on eligibility for the Federal Surplus Personal Property Donation Program, you can view the requirements at ecfr.gov.
Take Advantage of Small Business Contracting Opportunities
Although being a small business can come with its challenges, the federal government ensures that there are plenty of opportunities for success for small business contractors. If you think you qualify as a Veteran-Owned Small Business or a Service-Disabled Veteran-Owned Small Business, then you should take advantage of the resources and specialized opportunities available to you. The government often sets aside contracting opportunities or partial opportunities just for small businesses so they don’t have to directly compete with large businesses.
If you want to learn more about small businesses and finding government opportunities, you can check out our blogs below:
- Do I Qualify for Set-Aside Contracts?
- How to Succeed as a Small Business through a GSA Schedule
- How to Find Government Contract Opportunities on SAM.gov.