Legal Meets Practical: Accessible Solutions

Glitch in VA VetBiz System Could Cost Business Owners Contracts

If you know of a company listed in the VA’s VetBiz registry for service-disabled veteran-owned small businesses (“SDVOSBs”) and veteran-owned small businesses (“VOSBs”), please take a moment to forward this article. It may make a difference when they are bidding on set-aside contracts issued by the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs (“VA”) in the near future.

Unbeknownst to business owners, some NAICS codes have been removed from public (or contracting officer) view. Even if a company properly added its NAICS codes, and even checked them recently in anticipation of responding to a solicitation, it might now search for itself in the VetBiz database and find no NAICS codes listed. This means that when bidding on the solicitation at issue, it might get booted for failure to have the applicable NAICS code listed at the time of offer.

This also has Kingdomware implications – contracting officers conducting their necessary market research under the Rule of Two will search the VetBiz registry for veteran-owned businesses and then not set aside the opportunity because there will be no search results! (For folks who don’t know what Kingdomware is, the very quick summary is that it’s a Supreme Court case that held that when awarding contracts off federal schedules, the VA has to set aside the opportunity for veteran-owned businesses when there is the reasonable expectation that two or more such businesses will bid, and the award can be made at a fair and reasonable price that offers the best value to the government).

I’ve been told by the poor folks at the CVE help desk that this issue has been caused by problems with syncing with the VetBiz system. It certainly isn’t the veteran business owner’s fault, as anyone in VetBiz knows they have to add at least one NAICS code to have a complete profile.

It is unclear how many businesses have been affected, but take a moment to search for your business and make sure that if a contracting officer is viewing your profile, everything is as it should be. Here’s the link. If your NAICS code is gone and you’re responding to a solicitation, inform the contracting officer and also submit a Help Desk support ticket (though if the CVE is aware of this issue, it should be frantically correcting this system-wide malfunction already).

Why has the VA not sent out an alert about this? Someone at the VA’s CVE needs to take a moment to put this exact same information into a quick blurb and blast it out to veteran business owners. As proud as I am of this blog, it can’t reach everyone.

I take no pleasure in another negative article about the VA’s VetBiz verification system. If there were an improvement to report, I would happily do so. (In fact, the Director of the VA’s Office of Small Disadvantaged Business Utilization’s Strategic Outreach Communications and Training contacted me today about sharing information regarding the new VetBiz verification system, and I look forward to reporting positive changes to expect). Right now, however, these changes affect our veteran business owners, and it’s important they be informed.

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