WASHINGTON, D.C. – U.S. Senator Olympia J. Snowe (R-Maine), Ranking Member of the Senate Committee on Small Business and Entrepreneurship, today sent a letter to the Secretary of the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA), Eric Shinseki, requesting that he provide detailed information on what steps the VA is taking to ensure that only eligible businesses are participating in their procurement program while protecting legitimate veteran businesses applying for verification. In response to scathing reports from both the Government Accountability Office (GAO) and the VA Office of the Inspector General (OIG) detailing ineligible businesses that continue to reap rewards from procurement programs intended to benefit our nation’s veterans, Congress passed and the President signed, P.L. 111-275, the Veterans’ Benefits Act of 2010, which requires the VA to begin utilizing a full document review verification.

In her letter to the Secretary, Senator Snowe reiterated the need for more to be done to streamline the process and improve fraud prevention controls:

“Unfortunately, I continue to hear from numerous veteran-owned small businesses about the struggles legitimate veterans face when applying for certification through the Center for Veteran’s Enterprise (CVE) process. . . As the only Agency currently tasked with certifying veteran businesses, the VA must be the gold standard in preventing fraud in veterans contracting. However, if the process at the CVE is harming honest veterans in an attempt to weed out the bad actors, it is imperative that modifications be made to protect those legitimate veteran businesses trying to do business with the Federal Government.”

Background: On September 22, 2011, the U.S. Senate unanimously passed the Small Business Contracting Fraud Prevention Act (S. 633) which would provide a comprehensive oversight framework within SBA to execute effective certification, surveillance, and monitoring, while enforcing its entire contracting portfolio. The bill also increased criminal penalties for businesses awarded contracts through fraudulent means.

A copy of the letter to Secretary Shinseki is attached.