Legal Meets Practical: Accessible Solutions

Bill Puts Vets Second in Government Contracting

As most veteran business owners competing in federal space know, the Kingdomware decision holding the VA to the Rule of Two (having to set aside contracts for vet-owned businesses when certain conditions are met) was supposed to usher in a new, prosperous era for veteran-owned businesses.

While this decision has certainly effected a positive change, the reality is that for many veterans, their Kingdomware experience isn’t actually securing a set-aside contract, but fighting with the VA in one way or another about a decision not to set aside an opportunity.

Now, a bill introduced in Congress threatens to obliterate the contracting preference for veterans, as well as overturn a huge post-Kingdomware victory (PDS Consultants), which held that the VA’s obligation to veterans trumps its obligations to the AbilityOne Program. In that case, the U.S. Court of Federal Claims held that because the Veterans Benefits Act takes statutory precedence over the Javits-Wagner O’Day Act, the AbilityOne Program is a mandatory source for the VA only after the VA Rule of Two analysis is performed and the VA does not find two VOSBs that are capable of providing the product or service. (This decision was affirmed on appeal).

On October 29, 2019, Mark Takano, a Representative for California’s 41st Congressional District, introduced a bill that has been characterized by supporters as a “legislative fix for AbilityOne contracts.” Cited as the “Department of Veterans Affairs Contracting Preference Consistency Act,” the bill effectively provides an exception to the “veterans first” mandate when it comes to products/services secured under the AbilityOne Program which were first on the procurement list on or before December 22, 2006 or replace such a product or service. HR 4920.

Obviously, the Congressional representatives supporting this bill are motivated by political reasons. This is illustrated particularly by the “fluff” quote from Representative Virginia Foxx (R-NC) voicing her support of the AbilityOne Program. Remember what happened in the Trump/Clinton election? What matters is who comes out to vote, who voices their opinion. YOU HAVE NO VOICE IF YOU DO NOT USE IT!

As such, if you are a veteran business owner and want to impede the passage of this bill (which could very well affect your ability to secure a contract), contact your Congressman (as for the Veterans Affairs staffer). Urge them to oppose the bill, and show that veteran members of the voting public are watching. Don’t just read this blog and lurk on the Internet to see what happens. Spend the ten minutes you’d idly spend searching for Christmas presents online and make a difference!

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