If you are a Veteran Owned Small Business (VOSB) or Service Disabled Veteran Owned Small Business (SDVOSB), there are many strategic ways to position yourself to win Government contracts. Your status as a VOSB or SDVOSB alone is a start in increasing your chances of obtaining awards. However, it is important to take into account other factors largely dictated by the target agency with whom you wish to do business.
With the proper qualifications, it is not overly complicated to apply for VOSB/SDVOSB status. For one, self-certifying through the System for Award Management (SAM), is all that is required when looking to procure work from all Government Agencies with the exception of The Department of Veterans Affairs (VA). For VA procurements, you need to take the extra step of certifying through the Center for Veterans Enterprise (CVE). This can be time and resource consuming, and the competition for VA work is especially high. However, if you offer a VA-friendly product or service, especially in the medical field, it is probably worth the time and effort spent in applying for a CVE. Furthermore, any Honorably Discharged Veteran with a range of 0-100% disability can register as a Service-Disabled Vet with a letter from VA.
The most obvious advantage in bidding as a VOSB/SDVOSB is the reduction of competition resulting from contract setasides reserved for VOSB/SDVOSB bidders. The Department of Defense (DoD) currently has the largest pool of money for such setasides, but most Government agencies offer a sizeable volume of contracts designated as setasides. This procurement environment has been favorable for many VOSBs/SDVOSBs. Current statistics confirm this—1 in 6 Veterans starts a business, and 9% of Small Businesses are Veteran Owned.
But what of the Agencies themselves? Some quick research will yield an often-overlooked wealth of data that can point you toward the Agencies seeking VOSBs/SDVOSBs—knowledge that can place you at a further competitive advantage. Government agencies have a set percentage goal of eligible dollars reserved for VOSB/SDVOSB bidders. Based on data pulled from https://data.sba.gov/ in Fiscal Year 2015, for example, 3% of eligible monies were reserved for SDVOSB contractors. Of these, several Agencies fell short of their stated goals. The Department of Energy, Department of Health and Human Services, and NASA, are examples of those that did not reach the 3% goal. This means that these programs could not find sufficient SDVOSBs offering the needed products or services. Consequently, it is advisable to pay close attention to the Agencies that have the most urgent need for SDVOSB contractors. They may not be aware of your existence, so your first priority is to GET NOTICED, leverage your status, and begin to build a rapport with the particular Agency with whom you wish to establish a relationship.
It is important to emphasize, however, that you should never select a particular agency solely based on these figures. Remember, it is still much more important to know what you are qualified for, specialized in, and can demonstrate the strongest past performance. It is never advisable to chase irrelevant opportunities or go into any opportunity blind. Observing an agency’s set-aside goals is only useful in this context.
When seeking new business from Government Agencies, having the designation of VOSB or SDVOSB puts you at a competitive advantage. It is relatively easy to obtain these designations when the business criteria are met. There are good sources available online to determine which Government Agencies may have a stronger need for products or services based on their performance goals. However, it is important that you do your research and identify those Agencies most closely aligned with your own strengths and expertise before making a proposal.
Ramiro is a Certified Federal Contracts Manager (CFCM) and as a Senior Consultant with Coley GCS, LLC, a Government Contracts Consulting, Coaching and Training company. Ramiro has over 10 years’ experience helping companies succeed with their GSA schedules.