No, the Veterans First Contracting Program (the Program) was created by 38 U.S.C. 8127 and 8128 and implemented in 2009 as VAAR 819.70. Prior to the 2016 SCOTUS decision, the VA believed and two lower courts agreed, the Program did not apply when placing orders under FAR subpart 8.4, the Federal Supply Schedule (FSS) program. The VA’s use of the FSS program was the same as other federal agencies where set-asides against the FSS are discretionary, not mandatory. The SCOTUS decision overruled the lower courts and decided the Program does apply to FSS orders and is mandatory not discretionary. The VA is fully complying with the SCOTUS decision through the implementation of policy, procedures, and a robust training program to ensure the acquisition workforce fully understands the Veterans First Contracting Program and specifically applying the “VA Rule of Two.”
Yes. The Program was informally known as “Vets First” when it was implemented. The Class Deviation dated July 25, 2016, attachment 9 implements revised language in VAAR subpart 819.70 and other VAAR parts necessary to address the SCOTUS decision. Also, Attachment 1 to the Class Deviation includes definitions to standardize the name of the program as the “Veterans First Contracting Program” and defined key terms included in the statute.
No. The department already has in place a VAAR Integrated Product Team (IPT) made up of representatives from all the Heads of Contracting Activities (HCAs) and key department stakeholders to address revisions to the entire VAAR. This group has drafted VAAR draft parts and internal procedures, guidance and instruction that will go in to a Veterans Affairs Acquisition Manual (VAAM). Proposed VAAR revisions will go through formal rulemaking and the public will have an opportunity to formally provide comments and feedback that will be considered. As necessary, HCAs will implement required internal guidance to ensure the acquisition workforce has the requisite internal policy and procedures to help them execute our important mission.