The SBA is Now Accepting Applications for the Veteran Small Business Certification Program
As of January 9, 2023, the Small Business Administration (SBA) has begun accepting applications for Veteran Small Business Certification. This certification process used to be done through the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA), but as part of the federal government’s commitment to strengthen interagency collaboration, it has been moved over to the SBA since they handle all the other socioeconomic contracting programs for small businesses. Whether you are looking to get certified, or are certified already through the VA, here’s what you need to know.
What is the SBA’s Veteran Small Business Certification Process?
The Veteran Small Business Certification (also referred to as VetCert) through the SBA will be the primary certification process for both Veteran-Owned Small Businesses (VOSBs) and Service-Disabled Veteran-Owned Small Businesses (SDVOSBs). Before this process was implemented, there was no governmentwide certification program for SDVOSBs, meaning if they wanted to go after specialized government contracts, they would just need to self-certify.
Companies interested in certifying through the VetCert should first make sure they are registered in SAM.gov, or their registration is up to date. This is a crucial step because once you start the registration and certification process, it will automatically pull your SAM record in and ask you to confirm. If you don't have updated information in there (such as an address change or POC), you will have to halt the process until your SAM is updated, which could take awhile.
Next, visit the VetCert webpage and register, following the questionnaire. The SBA will walk you through all the necessary steps to complete the certification.
Do You Qualify as a Veteran Small Business?
Before we get too far in this blog, are you eligible to become a Veteran-Owned or Service-Disabled Veteran-Owned small business? We have listed the qualifications below.
To qualify as a VOSB, you must:
- Be a small business according to SBA’s size standards
- Be at least 51% owned and controlled by one or more veterans
- One or more veterans has full control over the day-to-day management, decision-making, and strategic policy of the business
To qualify for the SDVOSB program, your business must:
- Be a small business according to SBA’s size standards
- Be at least 51% owned and controlled by one or more service-disabled veterans
- Have one or more service-disabled veterans manage day-to-day operations who also make long-term decisions
- Eligible veterans must have a service-connected disability
What Are the Benefits of Changing the Certification Process to the SBA?
First and foremost, moving this program to the SBA will help eliminate confusion and redundancy. This way, veteran small businesses can turn to one source for certification and contracting assistance. With this certification, small businesses owned by veterans will also be able to qualify for several assistance programs, as well as sole-source contracts and small business set-asides. Certified VOSBs will be able to compete for these types of contracts at the VA and certified SDVOSBs will be able to compete governmentwide.
The SBA is introducing several improvements to streamline the certification process for veteran businesses, including:
- Providing veterans with a central support platform for their small business certification needs.
- Providing reciprocal certification for businesses with remaining eligibility in the Women-Owned Small Business (WOSB) and 8(a) programs. Some businesses overlap in these categories, so this will make the process easier.
- Creating a more business-friendly approach by streamlining the application process and aligning ownership and control requirements across the VetCert, 8(a), and WOSB programs.
Eligible new applicants that certify through the SBA will receive the standard three-year certification period.
What if I’m Already a Certified Veteran-Owned Small Business?
As of now, your VA certification has been automatically transferred to the SBA and will remain active until the end of your current certification period. As your expiration date approaches, you can apply for re-certification through the SBA’s Veteran Small Business Certification. There is also an extension to give you some time to certify through the SBA, which we’ll cover below.
There is currently a one-time, one-year extension for current VOSBs and SDVOSBs verified by the VA Center for Verification and Evaluation (CVE). Companies already verified by the CVE as of January 1, 2023, are automatically granted certification by the SBA for the remainder of their eligibility period, and this additional year will be added to the existing eligibility period.
But what if you are a self-certified SBVOSB? Through the National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA), self-certified SDVOBs have a one-year grace period until January 1, 2024. During this grace period, businesses have one year to file a certification application with the SBA. Self-certified SBVSOBs that apply before January 1, 2024, will maintain their eligibility until the SBA makes a final eligibility decision. Self-certification will still be permitted for SDVOSBs at the subcontract level and for purpose of SDVOSB goaling credit. However, the SBA intends to sunset this in a separate rule after 5 years.
Beginning January 1, 2024, both VOSBs and SDVOSBs will need to be officially certified (whether it’s their current CVE certification or new SBA certification) if they want to compete for federal contracting set-asides, unless an application from a self-certified SDVOSB is still pending an SBA decision.
Increasing Success in the Government Marketplace
If you have the opportunity to register as a small business, especially as a VOSB/SDVOSB or other socioeconomic groups, it’s a very important step to your success as a contractor. The federal government strives to prioritize small businesses, so you’ll have access to certain set-aside contracts and several assistance programs to guide you in the right direction.
If you want to learn more about becoming a successful small business contactor, check out our blogs Government Contracting Resources for Small Businesses and How to Succeed As a Small Business Through a GSA Schedule. If you have any questions about how you can certify as a small business, or if you need help managing your GSA Schedule, we are here for you.