Office of Small & Disadvantaged Business Utilization
What are the keys to a successful verification?
September 30, 2013
Dear Veteran Small Business Owner:
I write to provide you with important information you should know before applying to Veterans First Program. As the Executive Director of Small and Veteran Business Programs for the Department of Veterans Affairs, I want to alert you to changes in the process for Verification of eligibility for the Veterans First Program and inclusion in the Vendor Information Pages (VIP). Our current average processing time for those who have submitted a complete documentation package based on following the guidance in this letter is less than the 60 days required by regulation (you may find current average processing times at VetBiz.gov). If you want to avoid a process that ends in failure, please read this letter before proceeding.
While we seek to expand the number of eligible businesses included in the Veterans First program, we also seek to ensure that only eligible firms receive this opportunity. The process for verifying firms has become more comprehensive since February 2011, when we implemented Public Law 111-275. In 2012, approximately 58% of applications were denied. That rate has been reduced to less than 20% due to our Verification Assistance Program, but some applicants still have trouble. Most denials are a result of misunderstanding of the regulation, 38 CFR Part 74. This regulation has been in place for a long period of time, and the regulatory requirements have been tried, tested, and validated. While we have initiated a rule change process, the current regulation remains in place, and must be complied with in full, in order to be verified.
If you want to avoid being denied eligibility, I urge you to take advantage of our Verification Assistance Program. Our goal is to increase understanding and awareness of the specific requirements and reasons for noncompliance, in an effort to increase the success rate of applicants.
If you want to be verified on the first try, I urge you to do the following:
- Attend a Hands-On Application Workshop: These online workshops highlight key issues causing denial and provide tips to navigate the process. You can sign up for the workshops at VetBiz.gov.
- Review Verification Assistance Briefs: These briefs have been designed to clarify rules associated with 38 CFR Part 74. The briefs are based on an analysis of issues that cause the majority of denials. A large percentage of the reasons for denials are due to issues addressed in the Verification Assistance Briefs.
- Use Verification Self-Assessment Tool: This tool enables you do a comprehensive review of the entire regulation, and check your business model against requirements of 38 CFR Part 74.
- Seek Verification Counseling for Any Remaining Questions: The Verification Counseling Program has been developed to provide training and assistance to applicants who have trouble understanding 38 CFR Part 74 after using the briefs and the assessment tool. The counselors receive the same training as the Verification examiners. They can answer questions and guide you through the Self-Assessment Tool.
If you take advantage of these tools, found at the VetBiz.gov web site, you will increase your level of success.
Other important information:
- Once your firm has been approved, it must inform Center for Verification and Evaluation (CVE) of any changes or other circumstances that would adversely affect its eligibility. Any such changes or other circumstances may be grounds for CVE to re-evaluate your firm’s eligibility for the Veteran’s First program, and could lead to debarment.
- Any information pertaining to your CVE application may be subject to Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) requests.
Documentation provided to CVE by an applicant is subject to FOIA requests, may be subject to publication in response to a FOIA request, and can be used for purposes other than the Verification application by FOIA requestors.
Determination of ineligibility does not make any statement regarding the legal standing and validity of a particular business model other than to impact its eligibility for Department of Veterans Affairs Veterans First Contracting Program.
If you have any questions, or need more information, please contact our Help Desk at (866) 584-2344 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.
- Retain a copy of your determination letter so you can confirm your firm’s eligibility. If you do not receive a copy of the determination letter, call the Help Desk and they will send you one.
/s/Thomas J. Leney