Office of Small & Disadvantaged Business Utilization
Application for Verification
Dear Veteran Small Business Owner:
I’m writing to provide you with important information you should know before applying to the Veterans First Program. As the Executive Director of Small and Veteran Business Programs for the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA), 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 here). If you want to avoid a process that ends in failure, please read this letter before proceeding.
Service-Disabled Veteran-Owned Small Business and Veteran-Owned Small Business stakeholders’ candid feedback indicated the VA Center for Verification and Evaluation (CVE) needed to increase Customer Service touch points within the existing Verification process. CVE, in conjunction with MyVA principles, is transforming programs, procedures, and policies to increase customer service, to enhance the Veterans’ Experience, improve the Verification Process, and to become more Veteran-centric.
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 percent of applications were denied. That rate has been reduced to less than 4 percent due to our Verification Assistance Program, but some applicants still have trouble. Most denials are a result of misunderstanding 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 improve your Veteran experience, 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. You can find Keys to Success here.
We encourage you to take advantage of the free resources available to Veterans in the verification process:
- Attend a Pre-Verification Webinar: These voluntary webinars highlight key issues causing denial and provide tips to navigate the process. You can sign up for the Pre-Verification webinar which takes place on the 3rd Tuesday of each month here. This training is designed for firms interested in submitting their first CVE Verification application. Firms who have been inactive in the program for some time and now desire to submit an application can also benefit from this session.
- Seek Verification Counseling for Any Remaining Questions: The Verification Counseling Program has been developed to provide training and assistance to applicants who have difficulty understanding 38 CFR Part 74 after using the briefs and the resource tool. The counselors receive the same training as the Verification examiners. They can answer questions and guide you through the Verification Resource Tool.
- Review our Online Resources:
- Verification Assistance 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 denial are due to issues addressed in the Verification Assistance Briefs.
- Fact Sheets provide the latest information pertaining to VA Verification of Veteran-Owned Small Businesses.
- Frequently Asked Questions are categorized on our website to provide clarification to common questions from our Veteran entrepreneurs.
If you take advantage of these tools, located on the OSDBU web site, you will increase your level of success.
Once you are verified, please visit these locations for other important information.
- The Department of Veterans Affairs has contracting and procurement activities within its nationwide network of hospitals, clinics, regional offices, Veterans benefits offices, Veterans Integrated Service Networks, information technology centers, and national cemeteries that require a broad spectrum of products and services. More information can be found here regarding opportunities to do business with VA.
- Once your firm has been approved, it must inform CVE of any changes or other circumstances that would adversely affect its eligibility. Failure to notify CVE of 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.
- 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.
Any information pertaining to your CVE application may be subject to Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) requests.
Note: Documentation provided to the 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 the 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
Thank you for your service and your desire to continue to serve Veterans.
/s/Thomas J. Leney