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:
If you take advantage of these tools, found at the VetBiz.gov web site, you will increase your level of success.
Other important information:
Thank you for your service and your desire to continue to serve Veterans.
/s/Thomas J. Leney