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Opening Statement of Honorable Joe Donnelly, Ranking Democratic Member, Subcommittee on Oversight and Investigations

The Veteran-Owned Small Business (VOSB) and Service-Disabled Veteran-Owned Small Business (SDVOSB) programs are designed to foster veteran entrepreneurship by increasing available business opportunities.  Business ownership is an especially great opportunity for veterans with disabilities.

As part of the process to ensure opportunities for verified service disabled veteran-owned businesses, verified businesses are assured a portion of the VA’s contracts, and in order to ensure that only those firms that are actually SDVOSBs or VOSBs are awarded contracts, the VA Center for Veterans Enterprise (CVE) is responsible for verifying the veteran ownership of respective businesses.  Companies that have been determined to be eligible are listed in the VetBiz Vendor Information Pages database.  

The CVE, however, continues to struggle with the verification process.  Its progress confirming veteran ownership of firms listed in the VetBiz database has been slow, and despite the slow pace of verification, the GAO remains concerned that CVE is unable to control its program.  Specifically, in an ongoing investigation, the GAO found that the CVE provided conflicting information on the number of re-verifications they have done under the old law and the new law.

We will give CVE the opportunity to clarify this claim.

CVE’s move to require re-verification every two years may reduce the backlog, but unless those businesses who are considered verified met eligibility requirements in the first place, we risk awarding ineligible businesses VOSB and SDVOSB sole-source and set aside contracts.

We must find the proper balance among verifying business ownership or control, making the process easy and streamlined, and protecting taxpayer dollars from fraud.