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Opening Statement of Hon. Stephanie Herseth Sandlin, Chairwoman, and a Representative in Congress from the State of South Dakota

Some of the panelists may recall a hearing we held in May on the subject of veterans entrepreneurship and self employment, and an additional hearing held earlier this month on federal procurement and the three percent set aside.  During these hearings, many of our panelists expressed several concerns such as the failure of federal agencies to meet the three percent set aside for service disabled small businesses, and lack of knowledge on current laws by many contracting officers.  While this is discouraging to me, I am pleased to hear that some agencies are moving ahead to address these concerns.

Veterans of our armed forces have been and continue to be a vital part to securing our nation’s economic prosperity and development.  When given the opportunity to start and manage their own small businesses, these brave men and women add tremendous value to the success of our economy, as they strive to lead a successful life back in the civilian workforce.  Time and time again, we have seen these veterans, many disabled, return home to live out this American dream that they so bravely fought to protect. 

With over 17,000 veteran owned small businesses back in my home state of South Dakota, I am concerned that we are not able to give veteran entrepreneurs the proper assistance to expand their enterprises.  I am also concerned that we are not giving them enough opportunities to compete for more contracts with the federal government.

I applaud the efforts of the federal agencies to address the needs of our veterans while trying to secure goods and services from competitive suppliers. I know that, if given the opportunity, our veterans can compete as they do so every day. 

I appreciate the opportunity to work with Ranking Member Boozman and the distinguished Members of this Subcommittee as we continue to work in a strong bipartisan effort to meet the needs of our nation’s veterans and the challenges that they face.  I look forward to hearing from our panelists and to discussing ways to mitigate the negative effects of contract bundling on small businesses.

While we, in this subcommittee, have been working diligently to ensure that the voices of our veteran owned small businesses are being heard, I feel it is important to note that I look forward to working with our colleagues in the Committee on Small Business so that we may focus our energy on addressing the needs of our veteran community while meeting the demands placed upon the federal government.