Joint Hearing of the Committee on Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs of the U.S. Senate and the Committee on Veterans’ Affairs of the U.S. House of Representatives at 1:00 p.m. CDT.
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. During that hearing, many of our panelists expressed concerns over federal procurement opportunities and the three percent set aside rule for federal agencies. Today’s hearing will follow up on those concerns as we explore the current state of federal procurement and the problems that are being faced by veterans.
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 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 want to ensure that they, as well as all veteran entrepreneurs, are given proper assistance to expand their small business enterprises and are given the opportunities to secure more contracts with the government.
I understand that while some agencies may be meeting the three percent set aside goal, most agencies are not meeting this goal. I, along with my colleagues on this Subcommittee are troubled by the lack of progress and effort on behalf of most federal agencies. As you may know, Public Law 106-50 was signed by President Clinton on August 17, 1999 to increase veteran participation in federal procurement. This was then followed by Presidential Executive Order 13360 from President Bush on October 26, 2004. These measures have not brought about the changes that we were expecting for veteran owned businesses.
While we applaud the federal agencies that have met the three percent set aside goal, we are concerned by the lack of progress and effort. I look forward to hearing from our distinguished panelists on how we can best overcome these hurdles.