19 December 2017
VIA ELECTRONIC MAIL
Richard Ha ( Richard.Ha1@va.gov )
Department of Veterans Affairs
810 Vermont Avenue, NW
Washington, DC 20420
RE: FOIA REQUEST RE VETERANS FIRST CONTRACTING PROGRAM
Dear Mr. Ha:
On behalf of VetLikeMe, pursuant to the federal Freedom of Information Act, 5 U.S.C. § 552 (the “Act”), I request access to and copies of the following records, which I in good faith believe are described with reasonable particularity to be easily identifiable:
VA OSDBU has referenced at NVSBE and other conferences a large number of companies that have received an aggregate of over $250M of SDVOSB set-aside contracts after having been denied verification or that have withdrawn after receiving a pre-decision notification. This is a disturbing statistic.
VetLikeMe is recognized by VA as a news organization exempt from Freedom of Information Act fees. Under the Freedom of Information Act, we request the following data:
- The list of companies that form the basis for the $250M statistic denoting, for each, if they were denied or withdrew and the reasons/findings of VA CVE that were the basis of denial or withdrawal and the dates of application, withdrawal and/or denial.
- For the identified companies, a list noting which companies were verified at the time of application and, if applicable, the date that the verification expired.
- The list of the contracts and/or task orders that VA OSDBU identified as SDVOSB awards to these companies with the initial award dates and, if available, the RFP/RFQ/Task Order submission dates.
VetLikeMe is entitled to a fee waiver, as “disclosure of the information is in the public interest because it is likely to contribute significantly to public understanding of the operations or activities of the government and is not primarily in the commercial interest of the requester.” 5 U.S.C. § 52(a)(4)(A)(iii).
VetLikeMe is a digital news bureau that provides news, business information, interviews with government officials, and editorial features to veteran-owned businesses. Its newsletter distribution list has over 6,500 subscribers, and its website is visited by thousands of readers each month. It reports extensively on news and information that affects veteran-owned small businesses participating in the federal government contract arena. Accordingly, any information obtained from this request will be used to further this goal of increasing awareness in the veteran community of governmental activities to address fraud within the SDVOSB Program.
If the request for the fee waiver is denied, I ask that an explanation for this rejection be provided. Also, if my request is denied in whole or part, I ask that you justify all deletions by reference to specific exemptions of the act. I will also expect you to release all severable portions of otherwise exempt material. I, of course, reserve the right to appeal your decision to withhold any information or to deny a waiver of fees.
I look forward to your reply within 20 business days, as the statute requires. Please send the records to the address listed below.
If you have any questions about this request, please reach out to 301-305-6613.
Thank you very much for your assistance.