On Tuesday, the U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA) began accepting applications through the Veteran Small Business Certification (VetCert) program as part of the Biden-Harris administration’s efforts to expanding access to resources for veterans and other underserved populations.
A press release stated, “The improvements in the customer experience for veteran entrepreneurs and business owners made by VetCert will build upon the $25 billion in government contract spending with service-disabled veteran-owned small businesses (SDVOSBs) in fiscal year 2021.”
Administrator Isabella Casillas Guzman said, "The SBA’s new veteran small business certification program is designed with our commitment to deliver exceptional support for our skilled entrepreneurs from America’s military community. Supporting these veteran entrepreneurs with access to government contracting will ensure they can continue their valued 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.”
Secretary of Veterans Affairs Denis McDonough said, “Small businesses owned by veterans are eligible for key benefits and well-deserved support because of their owners’ selfless service to our nation. Certification is a critical part of that process, and I encourage all eligible veterans to submit their verification applications to the Small Business Administration starting today.”
SBA noted, “The transfer of veteran certification responsibility from the Veterans Administration (VA) to the SBA aligns with the Biden administration's focus on stronger interagency collaboration. The two agencies working closely together to accomplish a complex task benefits not only the veteran community, but the nation as a whole.”
Larry Stubblefield, deputy associate administrator for the SBA’s Office of Government Contracting and Business Development, said, “When federal agencies work together toward a common goal, great things can be accomplished. The collaboration between the SBA and the VA means that veterans, who have dutifully served our country, will be well served on their entrepreneurial journey, and veteran business owners will have additional opportunities in the federal marketplace.”
The program will be the agency’s primary certification vehicle for all veteran-owned small businesses (VOSBs) and SDVOSBs, classifications that “enable those businesses to qualify for sole-source and set-aside federal contracting awards. Certified VOSBs are eligible to compete for sole-source and set-aside contracts at the Department of Veterans Affairs, while certified SDVOSBs can compete for sole-source and set-aside contracts government-wide.”
The agency began accepting applications on Monday.
As the SBA moves forward to ensure more veteran entrepreneurs have access to economic opportunities, Guzman has granted a one-time, one-year extension to the current veteran small businesses verified by the Veterans Administration Center for Verification and Evaluation (CVE) as of Jan. 1, 2023.
The SBA said it is implementing several improvements to streamline the certification experience for veteran entrepreneurs. These include:
√ 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.
√ 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.
All changes to the certification process, along with new eligibility requirements, may be viewed at: https://www.federalregister.gov/documents/2022/11/29/2022-25508/veteran-owned-small-business-and-service-disabled-veteran-owned-small-business-certification.
Background on the Veteran Small Business Certification Program
Per the SBA:
To be eligible to apply for the Veteran Small Business Certification Program, an applicant must:
√ Be considered a small business, as defined by the size standard corresponding to any NAICS code listed in the business’s SAM profile.
√ Have no less than 51% of the business owned and controlled by one or more veterans.
√ For certification as a SDVOSB, have no less than 51% of the business owned and controlled by one or more veterans rated as service-disabled by VA.
√ For those veterans who are permanently and totally disabled and unable to manage the daily business operations of their business, their business may still qualify if their spouse or appointed, permanent caregiver is assisting in that management.
√ Eligible new applicants certified by the SBA after Jan. 1, 2023, will receive the standard three-year certification period.
Firms verified by the VA Center for Verification and Evaluation (CVE) as of Jan. 1, 2023, are automatically granted certification by SBA for the remainder of the firm’s eligibility period. The SBA has granted a one-time, one-year extension of certification to current VOSBs and SDVOSBs. This additional year will be added to the existing eligibility period of a current participant.
The 2021 National Defense Authorization Act grants a one-year grace period for self-certified SDVOSBs until Jan. 1, 2024. During the grace period, businesses have one year to file a certification application with the SBA. Self-certified SDVOSBs that apply before Jan. 1, 2024, will maintain eligibility until the SBA makes a final eligibility decision.
Beginning Jan. 1, 2024, both veteran and service-disabled veteran small business owners will need to be certified to compete for federal contracting set-asides unless an application from a self-certified firm is pending an SBA decision.
The U.S. Small Business Administration is online at www.sba.gov.