GAO to Dismiss Future ‘Veterans First’ Cases
(SDVOSB News Services, 12/13/2012, Washington, DC) — After sustaining at least three dozen protests in 12 months against the Veterans Administration (VA) for failure to adhere to Public Law 109-461, the Government Accountability Office (GAO) released a decision today to dismiss further protests based on the ‘Veterans First’ mandate. Sources inside GAO indicated that the failure of the VA to observe GAO’s previous recommendations contributed to this determination, citing the lack of “meaningful relief” by businesses protesting this important VA procurement policy.
The GAO General Counsel who wrote the determination, Susan Poling, states: “… the 2006 VA Act , ( PL 109-461), Veterans Benefits, Health Care, and Information Technology Act requires the VA to consider a set-aside for SDVOSBs (or VOSBs) prior to conducting an unrestricted procurement under the FSS.”
In October 2011, Aldevra, a service disabled veteran owned small business (SDVOSB) out of Portage, MI, filed the first in a string of protests citing the VA’s failure to conduct market research before issuing a solicitation to determine if there were two or more SDVOSB capable of performing the specifics of a contract.
In response to this protest, VA cancelled the solicitation. Several days later, VA circulated and a Department-wide memorandum to all procurement departments that GAO’s recommendations were not to be followed.
GAO to Dismiss ‘Vet’s First’ Cases
Since that November 2011 memorandum, several SDVOSB have filed similar protests with GAO, including Kingdomware, a Waldorf, MD SDVOSB, and GAO again sustained the protests.
In a telephone interview, Aldevra CEO Rodney Marshall commented: “I’m not surprised, GAO sustained 32 decisions in favor of Veterans First for our company alone and unfortunately VA still refuses to comply…GAO has done all they can.”
From the recent GAO report: “While this Office has set forth its view of the 2006 VA Act as well as testimony before Congress, the VA has elected not to follow our recommendations…with the VA’s position on the meaning of the statute, this effectively means that protestors who continue to pursue these arguments will be unable to obtain meaningful relief. Consequently, under these circumstances, we will no longer consider protests based only on the argument that the VA must consider setting aside procurements for SDVOSBs (or VOSBs) before conducting a procurement under the Federal Supply Schedule.”
Marshall added: “This is another example of our ineffective Congress – GAO told Congressional leaders multiple times what was happening and no action was taken. What concerns me most as a citizen is what happens next – does this mean other federal agencies can blow off what GAO recommends? Is anyone accountable in our federal government? … It’s a sad state for democracy and for veterans. One directive from the VA Secretary or President Obama would put Vet’s First, but these leaders aren’t willing to take that stand.”
Hardy Stone 301-845-1330