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Transfer of SDVoSB/VOSB CVE Certification to the SBA

SDVOSB Verification Transferred | CVE to SBA | Government Contracts Law

Transfer of SDVOSB-VOSB certification to SBA 

SDVOSB SBA Verification 

1. Introduction: The Transfer of SDVOSB-VOSB Certification to SBA

The transfer of the Business Assistance (BA) program from the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) to the Small Business Administration (SBA) has sparked a wave of curiosity among business owners, especially those in the veteran community. To shed light on this transition and its impacts, Tom Thompson of Colorado Impact Accelerators recently hosted an insightful webinar, answering crucial questions and providing valuable insights.

2. Colorado Impact Accelerators: Hosting an Insightful Webinar

Colorado Impact Accelerators, a renowned boutique law firm specializing in disability law, beer law, and veterans advocacy, convened the webinar. Leveraging their expertise in these areas, they offered guidance on the transfer of the BA program, with a particular focus on business development opportunities and sole source contracts.

During the engaging webinar, Thompson tackled 17 frequently asked questions concerning the transfer. Participants had the opportunity to actively participate by submitting their own queries, which were addressed later in the session. Additionally, a recording of the presentation was swiftly made available to attendees, ensuring easy access to the valuable information shared.

To kick off the webinar, Emily and John led a brainstorming session, setting the stage for the subsequent interactive Q&A portion. It's important to note that while the presenters provided valuable insights, they made it clear that they were not offering legal advice but rather informative perspectives.

3. Key Takeaways from the webinar: Business Eligibility and VA Extension

One of the key takeaways shared by John was that businesses previously verified by the Center for Verification and Evaluation (CDE) would maintain their verified status, as long as their eligibility remained valid. This reassurance brought a sigh of relief to impacted businesses during the transitional period. Furthermore, John informed participants that the VA had extended the three-year eligibility period by an extra year, providing businesses with more time to adapt.

The webinar delved into the intricacies of the transition from the VA to the SBA, considering the varying levels of expertise among the webinar attendees. He ensured that the information conveyed would be easily understandable for all participants. Emphasizing continuity, The webinar highlighted that the eligibility criteria remained unchanged. Businesses still needed to meet three crucial requirements: size, direct and unconditional ownership, and control by a veteran or service-disabled veteran.

4. Streamlining Verification: New Rules and Regulations under NDAA 2021

The transfer also triggered a series of new rules and regulations in accordance with the National Defense Authorization Act of 2021. By merging the CDE with other SBA programs through the Consolidated Appropriations Act, the government aimed to streamline the verification process, rendering it more efficient and user-friendly for business owners.

5. Improved User Experience: Introducing the New Verification Website

Thompson introduced the attendees to a new website that mirrored the functionality of the previous CVE platform but boasted improved usability and a more intuitive interface. Comparing it to the initially cumbersome SAM.gov website, The webinar emphasized the user-friendly nature of the new platform, offering a seamless and enhanced experience for businesses undergoing verification.

In addition to the changes and opportunities brought about by the transfer of the VA's Business Assistance (BA) program to the Small Business Administration (SBA), there have been notable changes to the regulations under Section 128 that are more business-friendly. Tom Thompson, the presenter of the informative webinar, commends the SBA for incorporating stakeholder feedback and making adjustments to the new rules.

6. Business-Friendly Regulations: Changes under Section 128

One significant change highlighted by The webinar is the removal of the "good character" clause, which he deems redundant. This revision ensures that businesses will no longer be judged based on subjective character qualities, allowing them to focus solely on meeting the necessary eligibility criteria. Another positive change is the SBA's increased leniency when it comes to rights of first refusal, potentially encouraging investment in veteran-owned and service-disabled veteran-owned businesses.

Thompson also draws attention to minor changes in the regulations. For instance, the physical proximity requirement has been eliminated as remote work has become more prevalent in today's business landscape. Additionally, The webinar emphasizes that the definition of "veteran" remains unchanged, with the SBA relying on the VA for this crucial information.

One of the most significant shifts resulting from the transfer of the VA program to the SBA is that businesses are no longer required to undergo independent verification by the VA to compete for non-VA set-aside contracts. The webinar emphasizes this as a crucial advantage that streamlines the verification process and opens doors for veteran-owned and service-disabled veteran-owned businesses.

7. Advantages of SDVOSB Certification: Priority Contracting with the VA

When it comes to submitting an application to the SBA, The webinar provides clarity on the timeline, assuring businesses that they have until 2023 to apply. Importantly, he notes that businesses do not need their applications fully adjudicated before submitting a proposal. This flexibility allows them to start pursuing contracts promptly, even as the SBA reviews their application.

Thompson also highlights the importance of maintaining direct and unconditional ownership for businesses seeking certification as a Service-Disabled Veteran-Owned Small Business (SDVOSB). He emphasizes that the veteran or service-disabled veteran must have full control over the business, overseeing day-to-day operations and long-term planning.

In addition, The webinar notes that the business must meet the size requirements for at least one NAICS code listed on its SAM.gov profile. This is a recent change from the previous requirement that businesses be small for their primary NAICS code only. He encourages readers to visit the SBA website for further guidance on creating an account or applying for certification.

Thompson goes on to discuss the benefits of becoming verified as an SDVOSB, including the mandate by the Veterans Affairs (VA) to prioritize awarding contracts to veteran-owned businesses whenever possible. He refers to Title 38, Section 18, AD 127, which outlines the VA's "Rule of Two" for restricting competition and creating opportunities for SDVOSBs.

8. Application Process and Timeline: Filing with the SBA 

By shedding light on these requirements and outlining the advantages of SDVOSB certification, The webinar equips business owners with the knowledge they need to confidently navigate the landscape of government contracting. With this certification, businesses can maximize their potential to secure contracts and contribute to the growth and success of the veteran-owned business community.

Thompson wraps up his discussion on SDVOSB verification by emphasizing the importance of understanding the key differences between the VA's quota system and the SBA's contract-by-contract approach. He highlights the benefits of the SBA's approach, particularly for small businesses who want to avoid competing against larger companies.

During his talk, Thompson delves into the advantages of subcontracting and utilizing the SBA's certification as a valuable marketing tool. To further support small businesses, he advises listeners to take action by filing a pre-award protest if the VA fails to set aside a procurement when the "Rule of Two" is satisfied.

Market research plays a critical role in determining whether a procurement should be set aside, and The webinar stresses that contracting officers must make reasonable efforts to identify two or more small businesses capable of submitting bids. He provides a comprehensive overview of the steps contracting officers should follow, including searching the SBA database, engaging with companies, and reviewing existing contracts. It's crucial for small businesses to file a pre-award protest before the proposal deadline to address any concerns.

Thompson covers the process of filing a bid protest with the Government Accountability Office (GAO) or the Court of Federal Claims. He highlights that the agency must provide documentation of its market research, but this information is only available to outside counsel due to its competitive nature. While small businesses have the option to file protests on their own, The webinar cautions that without outside counsel, they will not have access to protected information.

The transition of the SDVOSB program from the VA to the SBA is another important topic The webinar touches upon. He clarifies that setting aside contracts for small businesses is not exclusive to the VA, as other government agencies have different statutory mandates. Thompson emphasizes the significant benefits of the program for veteran-owned businesses. Though small businesses can apply for verification independently, he acknowledges that the process can be complex and may require assistance from consultants or law firms. It's vital to have a team member who understands the nuances of the verification process, and having legal counsel can be particularly advantageous in navigating potential challenges.

Thompson points out that various resources are available to support small businesses throughout the SBA application process. These resources include law firms, consultants, and the Procurement Technical Assistance Center (PTAC). Additionally, he encourages businesses to collaborate and assist one another during this endeavor.

To conclude his talk, Thompson acknowledges the availability of other helpful resources such as blogs, podcasts, and LinkedIn communities for small business owners. He invites participants to ask questions, addressing a few that come in. One question pertains to sizing out during the certification period, to which The webinar clarifies that meeting the size threshold on just one NAICS code listed on the SAM profile is sufficient. Responding to a question related to the transfer of the program from the VA to the SBA and its impact on the certification process, The webinar unfortunately does not have a clear answer at this time.

Thompson also provides insights into the application process for SDVOSB verification. He advises interested companies to create a checklist of necessary documents and questions to be better prepared. Additionally, The webinar emphasizes the importance of meeting the requirements themselves, as the burden lies on the company to demonstrate eligibility. The SBA will not do the work for them.

In terms of resources, The webinar suggests using the provided phone number, as it is more helpful than the email address. He reassures veterans that there is no statute of limitations for applying and that they can apply at any time. However, he reminds them that the period of eligibility is three years, and companies must resubmit updated materials to maintain eligibility. Unlike the 8A program, there is no expiration date for the SBA program, allowing companies to reapply as long as they continue to meet the requirements.

Addressing concerns about duplicate applications, The webinar advises individuals to contact the helpline and speak to a case analyst for assistance. He also mentions the possibility of receiving a dedicated case worker or manager, as the SBA has analysts who review profiles.

Regarding the transfer of information and documents from the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) system to the SBA system, The webinar remains hopeful but uncertain about the migration process. However, he confirms that companies already certified by the VA will not need to reapply for certification with the SBA.

Thompson also acknowledges a question about obtaining certification for a veteran-owned franchise. While the SBA provides assistance, he suggests that the questioner may benefit from hiring someone to guide them through the process, considering the potential complexities involved in maintaining control within a franchise relationship.

Concerning subcontractors, The webinar explains that the prime contractor will need to provide certification for their work. He recommends using a text search to find relevant information about certification in Section 128 of the regulation.

Thompson addresses a question about obtaining a certificate for a veteran-owned business by advising the questioner to contact the SBA directly.

He mentions potential delays in receiving certification due to the SBA rebranding its logo for certified businesses. To mitigate these delays, The webinar recommends creating an SBA account and linking it to the company or reaching out to the helpline for further assistance.

Responding to a question about updating the profile with the SBA after transitioning from a sole proprietorship to a corporation, The webinar confirms the necessity of updating the profile. Changes in ownership require documentation, and failure to provide the required updates can lead to decertification.

Thompson further clarifies that the SBA requires 51% ownership by a veteran for certification. This ownership requirement can be met by a group of service-disabled veterans.

The presenter discusses how "veteran" is defined according to Title 38 and explains the process of becoming service-connected and filing a claim. They also mention the acronym SDB (Service-Disabled Business) in relation to service disability determination made by the VA.

9. Ensuring Eligibility: Direct and Unconditional Ownership Requirements

Addressing a question about majority stock ownership held in a living trust, the presenter advises referring to Section 128 of Reg X for specific guidance.

Lastly, The webinar provides guidance for a scenario where a company's highest-paid employee does not qualify as a veteran. In such cases, the SBA will evaluate the explanation provided, taking reasonability into account.

In circumstances where a company's NAICS code is no longer included in the SBA's size standards table, The webinar does not provide specific guidance, leaving the reader with unanswered questions on this particular topic.

10. Resources and Support: Navigating the SDVOSB Verification Process

In conclusion, the webinar provided valuable insights on sdvosb verification. Attendees learned about the process of finding a new NAICS code if their business no longer fits the previous one, and the importance of aligning SAM and SBA profiles. It was emphasized that being small for one NAICS code is sufficient for SBA approval. The session also addressed the question of whether a service-disabled veteran can own multiple STV L.S.B., clarifying that it is possible but requires the demonstration of day-to-day control over all businesses. The webinar introduced John, an expert assisting with the transition process, highlighting the team's expertise in this field. 

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