How Service Disabled Veterans Can Win Government Contracts

The Service-Disabled Veteran-Owned Small Businesses (SDVOSB) is a program that allows small businesses to self-certify as service-disabled veteran-owned businesses providing them increased opportunities to win government contracts. Significantly and permanently impaired veterans may be assisted in the daily business operations by a spouse or permanent caregiver.

Should a competitor challenge a small business’ standing as a service-disabled veteran-owned small business the case must be referred to the Small Business Administration (SBA) for resolution.

Even though having your firm certified as an SDVOSB business can help increase your competitiveness in winning government contracts, there are exclusions from SDVOSB set-aside rules, including: Federal Prison Industries; Javits-Wagner-O’Day organizations; existing IDIQ contracts; federal supply schedule sources; requirements currently in the 8(a) program; and commissary sales.

Two types of SDVOSB justification includes sole source and set aside, which are reviewed below.

The SDVOSB Sole source justification may be used if the Contracting Officer (CO) determines that: a SDVOSB concern is a responsible contractor with respect to performance; there is not a reasonable expectation that 2 or more small business concerns owned and controlled by service-disabled veterans will submit offers for the contracting opportunity; the anticipated award price of the contract (including options) will not exceed $5 million in the case of a contract opportunity assigned in NAICS codes for manufacturing; or $3 million in the case of any other contract opportunity; and the contract award can be made at a fair and reasonable price.

To use the SDVOSB sole source, business owners should conduct market research, document findings, and, of course, negotiate as customary. Noncompetitive SDVOSB procedures may be used below the Simplified Acquisition Threshold.

The SDVOSB Set-Aside justification may be used if the CO determines that there is a reasonable expectation that not less than 2 small business concerns owned and controlled by service-disabled veterans will submit offers and that the award can be made at a fair market price.

To use the SDVOSB set aside business owners should conduct market research, publish requirement as customary, and make note of their Service-disabled Veteran-owned Set-Aside status. The contract will be awarded on the basis of competition restricted to small business concerns owned and controlled by service disabled veterans. If only one offer is received, the CO may award if price is reasonable. If no offers are received, CO must cancel and compete as a small business set-aside.

By Brian Cook


19 Responses

  1. Brian,

    Are there any requirements regarding the amount of effort a SDVOSB must do to complete the contract that has been competed as a set aside? For example, does a set aside have the same requirements as say a SDVOB Joint venture/teaming arrangement?

    • The short answer is 51% of the contract usually has to be staffed by the SDVOSB employees to meet set aside requirements. I would double check the contract or RFP to make sure because each agency and contracting officer is different but you can go with 51% as a hard/fast rule. R/S Joel

  2. This :

    each agency and contracting officer is different

    Is true. But then why do we have the FAR? I am in a funk and I know this, so excuse the bah humbug tone I have right now. Maybe it is not a funk even, just me being painfully dragged out of my naivete stage of being a SDVOSB start up. Can we have a discussion for Vets on the news behind the news. That the FAR is there for the front page aestetically pleasing appearance. But page 11, every agency is different. Case by case basis on application of the rules.
    Think of the economic times, how long it takes to go from never doing Federal business (at all) to understanding just the tip of the iceberg of how the GAME is played. Talk to Vets about the hard truths that you can not come home fresh and think you are just going to be the best basket weaver and get the job using any vehicle (SDVOSB, 8a, Hub Zone). You have to know people and have relationships. The best thing I see Vets doing is forming a social network, but even that comes with caveats and buyer beware. Don’t naively give you golden nuggets away to veterans either until you are sure, absolutely sure they will not take it and run.
    Okay I have been burned enough times right, isn’t it my turn for some success? Go through the no’s to get a yes. Someone….give me a bit of positive silver lining talks, but not too much, I want all to really put the truth out not just the talking points.

  3. Now, I am a veteran but not disabled. I’m competing against a couple of veterans as well – one whom is a disabled vet – my concern is, will they then automatically win the contract bid? If consideration for other factors such as price, experience etc. what advantage does a regular Armed Force veteran have over a disabled brethren?

    • In our experience price/experience matter the most to a contracting officer and rarely do they go with a disabled vet just because he/she is disabled. If it is a tie…then you lose. Your advantage is going to be providing the contracting officer with a proposal that makes it clear that you are the best company for the job. At the end of the day, the contracting officer has a job that needs to get done. He/She wants to know that it is going to get done right at the best price and they are not going to have to rebid the contract because of the failure of the company who won the award.

  4. B&T Constuction Inc
    8323 Wilcrest Dr 18008
    Houston Texas 77072

  5. I would like to hear from you soon.

  6. Thanks, that’s good advice. Although in my case, I’m competing against a contractor who’s had it for fifteen years. I am however, certified much higher with a lot experience. But it might be an uphill battle.

  7. Does anyone know the verification steps to become a CERTIFIED sdvosb? To compete in the Veterans Administration world, you must be certified and not self-certified like the other agencies. Thanks.

  8. To become a “certified” SDVOB go to the following link:

    Contact: Mr. Tyrone Lassiter (Center for Veterans Excellence – CVE)for assistance.

  9. I am a disabled veteran and I started an LLC, My current employer told me to stop or he would can me. He says I can’t compete with him, it’s illlegal. How can he prevent me from going on my own? He is not have an 8a or a SDVOB.

    • I would say the only way would be if he enforced a Non-Compete agreement with you when he hired you, if one was signed. If not, don’t sign one now and if so read the terms closely.

  10. I have a SDVOSB that is looking to merger with a company that is a non-SDVOSB. Both companies provide the same type of business. The non-SDVOSB wants to get into the government market to chase set aside projects but can’t. If we merge as 2 companies for more power to pursue the government market, does this require a new company to be formed or a division of the merger and would the SDVOSB still hold the 51/49 rule. Any thought please advise.

  11. Hey very nice blog!!….I’m an instant fan, I have bookmarked you and I’ll be checking back on a regular….See ya

    I’m Out! 🙂

  12. I am a certified Diabled Veteran Benefit Enterprise (DVBE) w/State of Ca. I have a water truck business fleet of 3 trucks. Into our 3rd year of business. Am I wasting time registering with this site?

  13. I think it is a wonderful opportunity.I’m very please that I Can finally recieve some type of support for my veteran status.thank you very much

  14. Does anyone know the cycle time on the verification process? How long has it taken other firms? Just wondering if this will be a 7-day process or a 7-month process. I know the VA is swamped, so it’s going to be tough to get 9,000+ firms across the goal line.

  15. I am a federal gov’t contracting officer and just found this site on a Google search while trying to identify SDVOSB.

    The comments are great and I’m happy to see this network helping each other. On my end, it’s difficult to identify any SDVOSB that will match my requirements… because I’m coming in from the other end. That is, I have a machine that I am given to buy and then I have to find sources–it’s difficult to go about it backwards. The vet-owned businesses are out there saying, Hire Me! Hire Me! but on the opposite end of the spectrum. Sorry, I cannot explain it well in this short space. Suffice it to say there is a disconnect between where I start and where the vendor starts and I wish there were an easier way to bridge the gap. My first choice would always be to support veteran-owned businesses.

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