By Walter Cotton III
- I have read the Court’s Decision, and all of the best articles on the PDS vs. IFB case. (https://ecf.cofc.uscourts.gov/cgi-bin/show_public_doc?2016cv1063-80-0)
- I have been materially involved in the critical meetings between the Veteran Community and the AbilityOne representatives,
- And I have helped the Veteran Service Organizations (VSO) deliver an answer to Congress’ question about a legislated option.
I share the foregoing, as I want you to know that the simple solution you are about to read – which for some reason is evading the experts – is based on a studied consideration of all of the facts in this matter.
That all said; allow me to be crystal clear about this one immutable fact. If AbilityOne and the VSO Communities allow the Courts or the Congress to decide this matter, America will be the loser.
It’s not my intention to argue the merits of either side’s position. If I were a betting man… I would have to be bet on the fact that the Appeals Court will determine that there was never a need to consider the issue of ‘first impression’, as… “the PDS case argued an important contracting preference” within VA.
Which is settled Law, according to the Judicial Branch of our Government (see: Kingdomware).
Yet, of greater importance, with an all-volunteer Military. Further injuring Him and Her who has already served, by diluting an earned benefit like Vets-First, can’t be viewed as a good recruiting strategy…
Here is the simple win-win, in my educated opinion:
Require VA to create a VAAR that promotes a ‘social-contracting’ solution that leverages a solicitation-evaluation-criteria scoring method – that provides a higher scoring weight to VOSB or SDVOSB responses (e.g., to “Ability One impacted requirements”) that include AbilityOne organizations as teaming partners.
The scoring weight could be progressive, and provide a higher score for those respondents that utilize more invasive relationships.
- The lowest score would be given to those VOSB Organizations that Team with an Ability One Partner.
- A higher weight would be afforded those VOSB Organizations that JV with an AbilityOne Partner, and
- An even higher weight could be afforded to those organizations that leverage the All Small Business Mentor Protégé (“ASBMPP”) solution, with an AbilityOne Manufacture or Sources-of-Supply to an AbilityOne Organization – that subsequently hangs an “AbilityOne inclusive” JV off the ASBMPP Relationship.
This approach would mitigate AbilityOne’s primary argument, which is that their businesses would be completely-destroyed by the literal application of the Vets-First requirement.
This approach would also give these Organizations the ability to grow their ‘net-market positions’ through their ‘AbilityOne-VOSB’ Strategic Alliances.
These are Alliances that would empower AbilityOne Organizations with the ability to capture (i.e., in concert with their VOSB Partners) a portion of the non-VA and commercial market spend that would come through sales to other Agencies, State/Local Governments and ‘Government Reliant Organizations’ (i.e., Prime Contractor, Healthcare focused Organizations…etc.) that have unmet VOSB/SDVOSB Prime or Subcontracting goals.
This contracting method will support the needs of AbilityOne’s Stakeholders and our Nation’s Veterans. This is just one of those unique cases where Strategic Alliances produce a better outcome…