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Mr. Joe Wynn

Mr. Joe Wynn, Veterans Enterprise Training and Services Group, Inc. (VETS Group), President, Member, Veterans Entrepreneurship Task Force (VET-Force), and National Association for Black Veterans


In December 2003, Congress passed the Veterans Benefits Act of 2003.  Section 302, created the Procurement Program for Small Business Concerns Owned and Controlled by Service-Disabled Veterans.  But it was Public Law 106-50, the Veterans Entrepreneurship and Small Business Development Act of 1999 that set the stage for veterans interested in starting or expanding their own small businesses.

Congress stated in its findings of PL 106-50 that America had not done nearly enough to ‘assist veterans, particularly service-disabled veterans, in playing a greater role in the economy of the United States by forming and expanding small business enterprises.’

It was PL 106-50 that called for the creation of new entities and the restructuring of existing ones in order to assist veterans in pursuit of entrepreneurship.  Under this law, SBA’s Office of Veterans Business Development, the Department of Veterans Affairs’ Center for Veterans Enterprise, and the National Veterans Business Development Corporation, were created.

While PL 106-50 also established a 3% procurement goal for federal agencies and prime contractors to purchase goods and services from service-disabled veteran owned businesses, it did not go far enough in giving contracting officials a vehicle by which to achieve the goals.  Thus, the second major piece of legislation was enacted as part of the Veterans Benefits Act of 2003 (Public Law 108-183).  Section 308 called for the creation of a Veterans Procurement Program and made it MANDATORY that federal agencies and prime contractors procure a MINIMUM of 3% of all of their goods and services from service-disabled veteran owned businesses.

The insertion of that mandatory language into the legislation effectively created quite a stir in the federal procurement community.  Wherein agencies were still paying little attention to veteran owned small businesses, the mandatory language caused them to stop and take notice.

But agencies still didn’t jump into action until the President of the United States issued an Executive Order in October 2004, directing agencies to carry out the law now!  Under the Order, agencies have been instructed to designate a senior-level official to be held accountable for submitting a strategic plan showing how and when they will achieve the 3% contracting goal for service-disabled veteran owned businesses.

The VETS Group is proud to have been a part of the collective effort of those veterans’ advocates who pushed for the development and implementation of these landmark decisions to expand veterans’ entrepreneurship.

But now after more than 7 years since Congress first laid the foundation for a veterans procurement program, two new laws and a Presidential Executive Order, federal agencies and prime contractors are still making excuses as to why they can’t make the 3%. 


Good Afternoon, Chairwoman Herseth-Sandlin, Ranking Member Boozman, other members of this Subcommittee, fellow veterans, and guests.

Let me first thank you once again for the opportunity to come before you to share some of my views on the Veterans Federal Procurement Program and Why Agencies Still Can’t Make the 3% and the collective views of many Veterans and Service Disabled Veteran Business Owners; veterans who served with honor, and many who received distinguished honors for displaying valor and courage during their periods of military service for this country.  Though my time of service was many years ago, as a veteran of the US Air Force with the 66th Strategic Missile Squadron, I still have a very vivid memory of the military experience.

You may recall that just a few weeks ago, I came before this same committee to express my views about the three entities created under PL 106-50 to provide veterans with business development assistance; the Office of Veterans Business Development (under the SBA), the Center for Veterans Enterprise (under the VA), and The Veterans Corporation (Non-Governmental).  The Center for Veterans Enterprise has been making progress with developing and maintaining a database for Veteran Business Owners, while the Office of Veterans Business Development has only been marginally successful in providing support for veteran business owners interested in federal contracting.  And The Veterans Corporation has shown even less progress in providing support for both federal contracting and business development.

As a lifetime member of the National Association for Black Veterans, I have spent the past 16 years assisting Veterans, and in recent years also serving as a Commissioner of the Congressionally appointed Veterans Disability Benefits Commission, Treasurer for the Veterans Entrepreneurship Task Force (VET-Force), Senior Advisor to the Vietnam Veterans of America, and President of the Veterans Enterprise Training & Services Group (VETS Group).

It is primarily by being a part of both the VET-Force and the VETS Group that I have become so familiar with the needs of veteran business owners and the legislation that created the Veterans Procurement Program and the offices and organizations directed to assist veterans with achieving the American Dream they fought so hard to protect.  It is well known that one of the best ways to get ahead is by obtaining a good job.  But by starting or expanding your own small business, you may achieve financial independence.

The VET-Force, which is composed of over 200 organizations and affiliates representing thousands of veterans throughout the United States; a high percentage of which, are small businesses; has made it their mission to monitor the implementation of the programs, agencies, and organizations referenced under PL 106-50. PL 108-183, Executive Order 13-360, and now PL 109-461.  The VET-Force presents a strong unified veterans’ voice for virtually all of the major veterans groups, veteran entrepreneurs, serves as an advocate for veterans seeking assistance with their small business or self-employment.

The VETS Group, a non-profit 501(c)3, community based organization that I founded in 2004, has a holistic program of services to help veterans achieve economic empowerment through education, employment, and small business ownership.  The VETS Group is able to provide information, outreach, small business federal procurement training and support to hundreds of veterans through its network of Patriot Resource Partners, its Coalition of Advisors, and its Technical Assistance Providers.

Since the Vietnam Era, America has been involved in numerous conflicts, missions, and peacekeeping endeavors.  And since the tragedy that overtook America on September 11, 2001, we have been engaged in the Global War on Terrorism, and even now continuing to increase the number of troops in Iraq and Afghanistan despite the overwhelming opinion to the contrary.  A new generation of veterans now exists; they are well trained, loyal, battle-tested and under-employed.  ‘As a Nation, we have been unsuccessful in providing the originally promised assistance our veterans have earned, deserved, and required so that they would have the opportunity to be as successful in their civilian pursuits as they were in their military assignments.’  (VET-Force Report to the Nation 2005).

If veterans and service-disabled veteran owned businesses are to succeed in the public sector agencies will have to stop making excuses for why they can’t make the 3%.  Veterans also will have to overcome a number of impediments: (1) The pervasive ignorance of the law and resistance to change across all agencies; (2) No enforcement of prime subcontracting plans; (3) Inaccurate agency data, miscoding, and double counting; (4) The perception that the procurement pie for small businesses is shrinking; and (5) Contract Bundling.

Agencies and veteran small business assistance providers must assist in identifying and registering the capabilities of veteran business owners where required, demand that all large prime contractors comply with their subcontracting plans, create situations that foster the development of relationships between agency procurement officers and veteran business owners, and improve the process of identifying and matching veteran businesses with procurement opportunities.

Why Agencies ‘Can’t’ Make the 3%:  Three Primary Reasons:

First let’s go over the Presidential Executive Order, #13-360 that was issued to direct agencies to more effectively implement the ‘mandatory’ legal requirement to procure ‘not less than’ 3% of their goods and services from Service-Disabled Veteran Owned Businesses and to do so by reserving more procurements exclusively for SDVOBs.

If agencies would actually adhere to the Executive Order, as stated, they would be much more likely to achieve the minimum 3%.  Here’s why.

The Order calls for each agency to develop a ‘written’ Strategic Plan that will provide details and guidance as to how they will proceed to increase contracting opportunities for SDVOBs and make the plans publicly available.  The Order was issued in 2004, but most agencies did not post their plans to the VA and SBA public websites until May 2006.

But a review of the plans by a special committee of the VET-Force, of which I was a member, revealed that over half of the plans were incomplete and some were poorly developed.   

Agencies are not only supposed to make their plans publicly available, but they are also required to report annually to the Administrator of the SBA on the implementation of the agency’s strategy. But only a few agencies have even attempted to submit an annual report partly because the SBA has not followed through on their part and provided proper guidance of where, when, and how to submit the reports.

Each agency should now have designated a Senior-Level Official to be responsible for developing and implementing the agency’s strategy.  But most agencies never designated anyone, some designated someone but they were not a Senior-Level Official, and then some had one but after they left the agency a new one was never appointed.

Significant elements of the strategy and the agency’s achievements were to be incorporated in the performance plans of the Designated Senior-Level Official, the Chief Acquisition Officer, and the agency’s OSDBU Director (Office of Small and Disadvantaged Business Utilization).  But to date, most agencies are still thinking about how to avoid that directive.  However, the VA under the Dept. Sec., Gordon Mansfield, did issue an internal memo to all its department heads to follow the Exec. Order.  And oh by the way, the VA is one of the few agencies that have achieved the 3% goal for SDVOBs.

Each agency’s Strategic Plan should include specific guidance on the following:

  1. How they will reserve agency contracts exclusively for SDVOBs;
  2. How they will encourage SDVOBs to compete for agency contracts;
  3. How they will encourage the agency’s large prime contractors make subcontract awards to SDVOBs and how they will monitor and evaluate their efforts to do;
  4. How they will train their agency personnel about the laws and policies related to the Veterans Federal Procurement Program; and
  5. How they will disseminate information that will educate SDVOBs to the agency’s contracting process.

Most agencies have simply left these tasks up to their Offices of Small and Disadvantaged Business Utilization.  But based on the agency’s budget, some OSDBU offices have more staff and resources than others.  So some send out representatives to many small business conferences to distribute information, but many simply rely on their websites and hopes that veterans will contact the small business office.

Training of agency personnel does not appear to be consistent, but many agencies seem to rely on the Defense Acquisition University’s (DAU) online course to provide training on the veterans federal procurement program.  However, the DAU training merely restates the legislation and not really clarifies how to apply the laws.  Nor does it address the specific agency policies or directives that also have an influence on how the laws are applied.

And seemingly, very few agencies are doing anything to encourage their large prime contractors to award more subcontracts to SDVOBs.  When you talk to contracting officers or acquisitions personnel, they all say that they are challenged by the enormous task of monitoring the subcontracting plans of the agency’s large primes while also having to meet the demands of new requirements.  So very few penalties, if any, are being imposed on the large prime contractors for failing to comply with their subcontracting plans.

The Executive Order also called for additional duties of the SBA Administrator, the GSA Administrator; the Secretary of Defense; the Secretary of the VA; and the Secretary of Labor.

  1. The SBA Administrator was directed to designate an appropriate entity within the SBA to (1) coordinate with the Center for Veterans Enterprise of the VA and to provide SDVOBs with information and assistance concerning participation in Federal contracting; (2) advise and assist the heads of the agencies in the implementation of their strategic plans; and (3) make available to SDVOBs training in Federal contracting law, procedures, and practices that would assist such businesses in participating in Federal contracting.

In May of 2005, under the Administrator at the time, Hector Barreto, the SBA started to create the Office of Federal Contracting for Veteran Business Owners.  But the office was staffed by only one person and in less than one year, the SBA dismantled it.  In late 2006, a new Administrator was appointed to SBA, Stephen Preston.  Mr. Preston began his tenure with a very positive attitude toward addressing the unmet needs of veteran business owners and complying with the Executive Order.

In March of 2007, at a meeting of the VET-Force, Administrator Preston, and his Chief of Staff, Joel Szabat, both conveyed to their staff, VET-Force members, and guests that SBA intended to fully comply with the Executive Order and PL 108-183 to achieve the 3% mandatory minimum goal for SDVOBs. This time, instead of setting up a separate office and appointing another person, the Administrator directed Bill Elmore, the head of the Office of Veterans Business Development to take the lead. 

At that very same meeting, Bill Elmore introduced everyone to Billy Jenkins, as the Veterans Program Coordinator from his staff, who would be the point man with the experience, background, and responsibility to assist agencies with the implementation of their strategic plans and to assist veteran business owners with Federal contracting.

But once again, SBA has dropped the ball and failed to comply.  Since that meeting in March, SBA still has not assisted any agencies with their strategic plans, they have not instructed agencies on how, when, and where to submit their annual reports, and they have not implemented any federal procurement training for any veteran business owners.  And once again, they have only one person in the whole office assigned to assist veteran business owners with federal contracting.

The Office of Veterans Business Development should be required to submit a Strategic Plan demonstrating how present and future resources will be used to expand the assistance needed by veteran business owners for federal contracting.

  1. After two and a half years, GSA finally completed the Veterans Government Wide Acquisition Contract (GWAC) that is designed to reserve participation for SDVOBs.  Only 43 SDVOBs were awarded contracts under this contract vehicle.  And based on the requirements, each of the SDVOBs had to team up with 5 or more other companies and submit a proposal of nearly 100 pages or more to qualify!  Many companies said the proposal was the most extensive and expensive proposal they had ever done.

Now the SDVOBs have to wait until agencies are authorized to use the Vets GWAC and until they receive task orders, of which they still have to compete for, in some cases, among all 43 teams.  And what’s ironic about this whole thing is that since some of the team members are large primes, an SDVOB could win the bid for a sizeable task order, but a large percentage of the work could legally be performed by the large prime, thus leaving not so much profit for the SDVOB that this GSA contract vehicle was intended to help.

Once again, a case of work intended for small businesses going to large businesses.  But I’m told, under this scenario, the agency would still count the total contract dollars allocated for this task order towards its SDVOB goals.

  1. According to the Executive Order, DOD has complied with its additional duty and created an online training module on contracting with SDVOBs and made it accessible to all agencies.  But as was mentioned above, the online module has some obvious limitations. 

But just recently, through the efforts of the VET-Force, the DOD Deputy Chief of Acquisition made a commitment that DOD’s Strategic Plan would be compliant with the Executive Order and issued a directive to all of the Armed Forces Secretariats to complete a comprehensive and compliant Strategic Plan also.

Among other things, the DOD acquisition official, per request of the VET-Force, also directed the DOD Small Business Director to organize an informal working group to occasionally work with and advise DoD on the effect of DoD directives and actions in meeting the SDVOB 3% goal.  The standing committee will include (less OSDBUs): 

  1.  Approximately four SDVOB business owners (2 IT, 1 non-IT, and 1 construction);
  2. Two to four veteran organizations chosen by the VET-Force; and
  3. One DoD representative and one from each of the Armed Forces Secretariats. 

The monthly meeting will be co-chaired by one government member and one non-government member. 

  1. VA seems to be complying with the Executive Order to the fullest.  Through its Center for Veterans Enterprise, the VA has develops and maintains a database reserved exclusively for veteran and service disabled veteran business owners.  They have made the database accessible to all agencies, large primes, and the general public.  And since the passage of the recent legislation, PL 109-461, they have begun to establish a verification process to ensure that registrants in the database are veterans.

The VA was one of the first agencies to develop a realistic Strategic Plan, publicly post it to its website, and designate a Senior-Level Official to oversee the implementation of the plan.  They have also offered to submit an annual report to the SBA and have made appropriate revisions to the plan over the past two years.  And as was referenced above, they are one of the few agencies that have exceeded the 3% in 2006.

  1. The Dept. of Labor was tasked with the additional duty of educating separating military service members as to the benefits available to SDVOBs through the DOD Military Transition Assistance Program (TAP).  This task was delegated to the Dept of Labor’s Veterans Employment and Training Service (DOL-VETS).

Though briefings from DOL-VETS have increased, very little time is allocated to entrepreneurship.  And the topic of entrepreneurship is discussed even less with members of the National Guard and Reserves returning from the War in Iraq or Afghanistan.

This detailed analysis of the Executive Order and how agencies have or have not complied, demonstrates just one of the primary reasons why I believe that agencies can’t make the 3%.

The other two primary reasons are:

No Authorization to Make Direct Awards

The fact that contracting officers don’t have the authority to issue direct awards to a SDVOB of their choosing, under the Simplified Acquisition Threshold as is allowed under the Small Business Act for the 8a program, even if other SDVOBs are available.  This has previously been limited in the Veterans Federal Procurement Program due to what is referred to as the “Rule of Two.”

The Rule of Two as introduced under PL 108-183 is contained in Part 19 FAR, and the Code of Federal Regulations (CFR) 13 CFR, Part 125.  The Rule of Two states if a contracting officer knows of two or more SDVOBs that can do the work, then the requirement must be competed.  So even though that same law also states that if the contracting officer only knows of one SDVOB that can meet the requirement, a sole source award CAN BE Made, this obviously would not permit a contracting officer to make a direct award to only one SDVOB based on their discretion if other SDVOBs are available to do the work.

Meeting with and talking with Federal contracting officers, I have found that they are often under pressure to get certain requirements awarded quickly, and although there is a SDVOB that can do the job, they routinely go to 8(a) firms.  Under the SBA’s 8a program, contracting officers are allowed to make direct awards even if there are other 8a firms available to do the work.  In these cases, the Government does not have time to even consider restricted competition among SDVOBs because of time factors. Thus, the SDVOB suffers and the government agency looses an opportunity to add to its 3% Goal under the law.

‘May’ versus ‘Shall’

There has been enormous confusion created because of the use of the word “May” throughout the legislation (PL 108-183) and the implementing regulation.  In reviewing the discussion points included as part of the implementing regulation published in the Federal Register on March 23, 2005, by DOD, GSA, and NASA, one can clearly discern that the word “May” is being used in a positive way to allow contracting officers the latitude to award contracts under either the SDVOB program, the Hubzone Program, or the 8a Program.

But this use of the word “May” has to be changed to “Shall” or at least the term must be clarified so that contracting officers will stop using it as an excuse to not award contracts to SDVOBs.  Many continue to say that the term “May” causes the SDVOB program to be placed in an order BELOW the 8a and Hubzone programs.

I would also like to submit other recommendations that would help to increase contracting opportunities to SDVOBs:

  1. Strengthen the SDVOB program by enforcing Executive Order 13-360, increasing contract awards, adding authorization for direct awards non-competitively, and by correcting of wording of the governing regulation, without submerging SDVOBs into the 8a program.  The 8a program was created to help alleviate the more than 100 years of wrongful discrimination and exclusion of minorities from the full benefits of American society, including the federal marketplace.  The SDVOB program is intended to be inclusive of any American who served in this country’s armed forces, guard or reserves.  The SDVOB program should retain its own identify for “those who have borne the battle.”
  1. Small Business Subcontracting Plans submitted by large Primes should be monitored more closely.  Liquidated damages or the elimination of future contracts should be imposed for those companies that fail to demonstrate a good faith effort.  Contracting officers should also be held accountable for their role in this process.
  1. Extend the provisions of Sections PL 109-461 that direct the Dept. of Veterans Affairs to prioritize contracting for SDVOBs and VOBs to all Federal agencies and the DOD.
  1. Provide a Price Evaluation Preference of 10% for SDVOBs in acquisitions conducted using full and open competition.
  1. Direct the SBA Procurement Center Representatives (PCRs) and Commercial Marketing Representatives (CMRs) to allocate more time assisting SDVOBs and oversight of agencies failing to achieve the 3%. 
  1. Have the Office of Federal Procurement Policy issue a statement to clarify that the 23% Government-wide small business goal is only a ‘Minimum’ and that agencies are allowed to surpass the 23%.
  1. Close the loopholes in the GSA schedule (FAR Part 8) wherein large businesses are allowed to take away business intended for small businesses.
  1. Make it mandatory that agencies consider past experiences and performance of the veteran business owner and/or key personnel when evaluating past performance of the company.
  1. Congress should consider adapting a program for service-disabled veterans that would be modeled after the JWOD program.  Under the JWOD program, a non-profit organization receives a fee from the contract award to serve as the facilitator to the contracting process between small businesses and federal agencies and to ensure that those small businesses selected are adequately trained and qualified.  The small businesses must also agree that at least 60% of their labor force will be people with severe disabilities.  This could prove to be a win-win for the government, service disabled veteran owned businesses, and seriously disabled veterans.
  1. The three organizations created under PL 106-50, The Veterans Corporation (TVC), the Office of Veterans Business Development (OVBD), and the Center for Veterans Enterprise (CVE) should establish partnership agreements to share small business resources and information that will help to increase the pool of capable and qualified veteran business owners across the country.

In Summary:

The federal marketplace is a trillion dollar industry.  And 3% of that annual budget is easily in the billions.  Not to mention the prime vendors procurement budget and other non-federal procurements.  Both Federal agencies and commercial vendors are faced with the time consuming task of identifying and screening capable and qualified veteran owned small businesses to meet their requirements.  And veteran business owners need as much help as they can to be ready.

Following the recent events related to the treatment of veterans at Walter Reed Army Medical Center, it should be abundantly clear to all that our service members, their families, and citizens throughout the United States are taking note of how this new generation of service members are being treated. The actual and perceived treatment of our Nation’s Veterans, especially those returning from the War on Terrorism, will be a symbol of how valued their sacrifice was and a clear signal to any future enlistees on the ultimate value of their service to the Nation.

In the Report to the Nation, developed by members of the VET-Force, ‘the presence of successful and prominent veterans within and across our nation’s business communities is a testimony of a grateful nation—a nation that honors and respects the sacrifices made by Veterans in behalf of our country, both today and tomorrow.  Veterans are uniquely qualified to work as contractors to the Federal Government because of their service experience and their dedication to providing quality products, on time and at a reasonable cost. Effective legislation such as PL 106-50, PL 108-183, and Executive Order 13360, has provided a good beginning in allowing America to honor the service of Veterans who continue to serve by helping to build a stronger economy. More needs to be done.’

Thank you for your attention to these matters.  This concludes my statement.

Attachment 1


 submitted by the Strategic Planning Subcommittee


December 2005

The following agencies submitted Strategic Plans for 2005 in compliance with the Presidents Executive Order 13360.  Each plan has now been reviewed and rated by the TFVE Strategic Planning Subcommittee.  A summary of the ratings per agency is listed below.  The Strategic Plans Review Summary Sheets for each agency have been forwarded via e-mail.

RATING SUMMARY:  Each plan has been rated based on a scale of 0 – 4, with

0 = Unacceptable, 1 = Below Average, 2 = Average, 3 = Above Average, and 4 = Excellent. 

Of the total 34 agencies listed below, 32 submitted Strategic Plans.  10 were rated Unacceptable; 10 were rated Below Average; 10 were rated Average; and 2 were rated Above Average.  In determining the ratings consideration was given to:  the number of completed responses out of a total of 12; the soundness of the approach; the level of detail in the responses; and the likelihood that the proposed activity would achieve the anticipated results.

Other factors considered were: the use of:  Forecast Lists; CCR; VETBIZ; Outreach Events; Websites; DAU; Accountability (Top – Down); Prime Contractor Preference Incentives and SDVOB Past Performance as Evaluation Factors.

Copies of the agencies’ plans are posted on the websites of the Dept. of Veterans Affairs and the Small Business Administration.  To review, go to: or



Department of Agriculture 2
2. Department of Commerce 1
3. Department of Defense 2
4. Department of Energy 1
5. Department of Education 2+(Almost Above Avg)
6. Department of Health and Human Service 1
7. Department of Homeland Security 2
8. Department of Housing and Urban Development 1
9. Department of Interior 2
.10. Department of Justice 2
11. Department of Labor 1
12. Department of State 3+(Almost Excellent
13. Department of Transportation 0
14. Department of Treasury 2
14. Department of Veterans Affairs 3
16. Agency for International Development 2
17. Defense Contract Agency - (No Plan Submitted
18. Environmental Protection 2
19. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission 1
20. Federal Election Commission 0
21. International Broadcasting Bureau 1
22. General Services Administration 2
23. National Aeronautics and Space Administration 1
24. National Credit Union Administration 0
25. National Labor Relations Board 1
26. National Science Foundation 0
27. Nuclear Regulatory Commission 0
28. Peace Corps 0
29. Railroad retirement Board 0
30. Security and Exchange Commission 0
31. Selective Service System 0 (set 1% goal SDVOBs)
32. Small Business Administration 0
33. Smithsonian Institute - (No plan submitted)
34. Social Security Administration 1 (good response to #11)


Agency #          __________________________________________________


0 = Unacceptable     1 = Below Average     2 = Average     3 = Above Average     4 = Excellent









PROGRESS REPORTS TO SBA – Annually to the Office of Government Contracting.



















           TFVE CONCERNS


Plan only mimics Executive Memo


Plan execution


Plan specific or general small business

Members of the Strategic Planning Subcommittee are as follows:

Charles Jones (Subcommittee Chair), Joe Wynn, Bob Hesser, Jim Hudson, Scott Golden, Mike Bradican.  (Assistants:  Michelle Reinecke and Dianna Osborne of Commercial Marking Corp.) For additional information or to contact the subcommittee members contact Charles Jones (803) 699-4940 or Joe Wynn (301) 585-4000 ext 147