by JD Palmer
Why defer a major cost savings that improves veteran experience, gets better value for VA, builds a stronger VA/stakeholder relationship and eliminates major distractions that divert critical resources from the big problems? That’s what CVE does.
The Long Journey of the Service Disabled Veteran Owned Small Businesses
The journey to recognition as a verified SDVOSB company is long and hard. World Wars I and II were significantly shorter than the journey many of us have undertaken. Same for the Korean War, Vietnam, and the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. For some of us, the journey can be thought of as “of Biblical proportions” as some resolutions have taken more than 40 years. There ain’t no manna from Heaven on this journey.
First is military service resulting in one or more conditions that may be eligible as Service Connected disabilities. Time in the military can be from months to several decades. This time may include extended periods of rehabilitation.
Application for benefits and our first VAMC visit
Next, is the application to determine eligibility for benefits – the Compensation and Pension process. The C&P process is getting better, but we’re addressing the journey of those that have already entered the process, including those mired in the appeal process. It is not atypical for years to decades to go by before access to benefits and healthcare is granted. Waiting 90 days to get an appointment is nothing compared to the years waiting for access.
Adding Verification to the wounds
Once the VA disability rating is granted, the next destination in our journey of SDVOSB status is CVE verification. VA verification has made many process changes, but how many of the issues encountered by vets is process? We continue to see case after case of arbitrary rules and decisions followed by lack of due process.
VA’s flawed interpretation of Public Law 109-461 denied vets access to hundreds of billions of dollars of contracts
For more than 10 years, veteran advocates challenged VA’s flawed interpretations of PL 109-461. That represents an improper windfall of hundreds of billions of dollars to large businesses and other than veteran owned small businesses. These businesses prospered, grew and reaped the rewards while VA denied access to those contracts to the thousands of VOSBs that earned access to those contracts. Now, many of those businesses that improperly benefitted are lobbying to return to the “good old boy” improper ways of doing business. As we look at VA’s pervasive problems, what did we get for those hundreds of billions of dollars other than an opportunity to spend more good money after bad? And, what happened to those veteran owned businesses that were improperly denied access to the contracts, growth and profits that they earned?
Did VA’s response to Kingdomware decision correct these problems? Hell no.
There are lots of policy changes that are, superficially, shifting the easy button. Market research is being broadly performed. VetLikeMe FOIA’ed VA’s procurement decision packages for awards made to non-verified firms. We found that contracting officers were largely ignoring the full market research process. Then we found that VA acquisition leadership has written the VA Acquisition Regulations in a way that effectively directs contracting officers to use an inefficient, ineffective and incomplete process and create a perception of major concerns with Veterans First. We also found that VA had established policies for verification and status protests that are being ignored by CVE.
Why it’s rational for the Secretary to fix verification and Veterans First sooner, rather than later:
Verification can be fixed administratively and quickly – NDAA 2017 has fully enabled all that is needed.
- Is quick —
- Immediate cost savings — start saving millions on day one. Can redirect or eliminate unnecessary and duplicative efforts and inefficient processes.
- Doesn’t require diversion of resources and attention from the “big” problems — Because these issues consume a lot of VA, Congressional and veteran dialogue, the quick fixes will free up VA leadership and stakeholders to focus on the really big issues.
- Creates trust and collaboration that will affect how well and quickly VA, with its stakeholders, can transform application for and delivery of benefits and healthcare.
Why defer a major cost savings that improves veteran experience, gets better value for VA, builds a stronger VA/stakeholder relationship and eliminates major distractions that divert critical resources from the big problems?
CVE is ignoring all of these positives. But why?