WASHINGTON, D.C. – U.S. Senate Committee on Small Business and Entrepreneurship Ranking Member Olympia J. Snowe (R-Maine) last night urged the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) and Small Business Administration (SBA) to work together in executing an agreement to jointly manage the process of resolving protests of the qualifications of veteran-owned small businesses (VOSB) or service-disabled veteran-owned small businesses (SDVOSB).  Specifically, in a letter to VA Secretary Eric Shinseki and SBA Administrator Karen Mills, Senator Snowe expressed concern over a recent interim rule stating that the Executive Director of the VA’s Office of Small and Disadvantaged Business Utilization (OSDBU) will presently decide VOSB and SDVOSB status protests, removing the SBA from the process.

            “It is paramount that the VA and SBA ensure small businesses have an effective status protest procedure – which gives veterans the ability to self-police the SDVOSB and VOSB programs – to better prevent fraud and abuse from permeating the system,” said Ranking Member Snowe.  “Furthermore, it is crucial that these two agencies work hand-in-glove to create a fair and equitable contracting program – free from fraud and abuse – that benefits our nation’s veteran-owned and service-disabled veteran-owned small businesses.  It is incumbent upon all of us to recognize the tremendous sacrifices these individuals have made on behalf of our nation and to provide them with all the necessary assistance as they seek to compete in the small business marketplace.”

            Yesterday’s letter comes less than a month after Senator Snowe wrote to Secretary Shinseki and Administrator Mills highlighting a recent Government Accountability Office (GAO) report of fraud and abuse in SDVOSB contracting.  She urged the respective agencies to quickly implement the GAO’s recommendations to rid the program of such waste.   

            Additionally, Senator Snowe reiterated her longstanding call for implementation of the Veterans Interagency Task Force that was included in the Military Reservist and Veteran Small Business Reauthorization and Opportunity Act (P.L. 110-186), signed into law on February 14, 2007.  If implemented properly, this task force will allow Federal agencies and veterans service organizations to collaborate towards improving capital access, ensuring the achievement of crucial Federal contracting and subcontracting goals, and making general improvements related to supporting veterans business development.