Opening Statement of Honorable Ann Kirkpatrick, Ranking Minority Member
In 1999, Congress required the Small Business Administration to establish programs and services to help veterans make the transition from service member to small business owner by increasing Federal contracting and subcontracting opportunities for veterans. As more veterans return home from Iraq and Afghanistan, our Nation has the responsibility to help them reenter civilian life.
Some veterans may choose to go to school, work in the private and public sector while others may choose to begin their business. Veterans bring with them self discipline and a strong work ethic from their military service that we know will help them to succeed in any business.
As we encourage veterans to enter into business with the Federal government we must have the right elements in place. It should not be overly difficult to do business with the Federal government but it should not be so easy that fraud is rampant and these opportunities that are set aside for veterans are lost. In 2010 the VA alone improperly awarded veteran set aside contracts valued at $500 million to ineligible businesses.
The VA Inspector General stated that it expects VA to improperly award $2.5 billion in contracts over the next five years unless oversight and verification procedures are strengthened. In the end what we should seek is a good balance in providing smart and worthwhile verification procedures but we should not make it so difficult as to prevent veterans from doing business with VA and the rest of the Federal government.
Today’s hearing will build upon the hearings from the last Congress as we seek to ensure that federal contracting is being done effectively and efficiently by the Small Business Administration and the Department of Veterans Affairs, particularly for service disabled veteran small businesses owners.
As we explore what the definitions of ownership and control from VA and SBA along with other concerns we should not lose sight that each business is the life a veteran and the opportunity for a quality life for his or her family.
I look forward to the testimony this morning and I want to thank all the witnesses for being here today.