How your SDVOSB can better sell to the Federal Government

Government, like all other business, is built on relationships.  Cost (of course) is also of primary concern, but not the only criteria for bids to be awarded.  Knowing how to negotiate the myriad rules that enable the federal procurement process to operate in a fair and transparent fashion has the downside of being difficult and slow to navigate.  To ensure your SDVOSB’s place as a player, you need to follow some important steps, from the basics, to those contacts your have built relationships with.

Some of these steps will make the government a lucrative client for your business.  Learning what the government wants, finding the key people that make purchasing decisions and make it easy for Uncle Sam to buy from you (sounds easy right?).

Uncle Sam wants to buy from your SDVOSB

You need to be completely accurate in your attention to detail – Your application can be rejected for the simplest things, like wrong font size!  Visit http://www.business.gov for examples on proposals that will help guide you through the maze of rules and regulations and access resources to help you succeed in your business.

You have to have patience and realize that the government can work at what seems like a turtles pace, taking a couple of months to 2 years or more to make decisions.

You need to spend a significant amount of time searching the internet – this time will pay off because you will find tons of useful government market information at no cost to you.

Along with the very important SDVOSB networking events, conference attendance, and submitting proposals, also be aware of the government’s use of  acronyms in their procurement process, if you learn their meanings you will boost your legitimacy.

No, the Government Does Not Operate Like Other Businesses.

Private companies use many different criteria for purchase decisions, from seat of the pants, to textbook precision.  Government on the other hand, must follow rules found in the Federal Acquisition Regulations (FAR) document – 1 book with no less than 1,600 pages.  Obviously this will complicate the process, but set a standard the make procurement decisions fair, transparent, and of value to taxpayers.

Because of their huge buying power, government also has the ability to make your business margins very tight, including having profits on some of their contracts capped by law.  The reason that buyers are willing to sell at these often extreme margins is VOLUME.  If you deal with a company whose typical contract is $10 to $20 million dollars, you can still make a tidy profit at a small margin.

What Do You Have that the Government Wants?

You may want to start with Procurement Technical Assistance Centers:  PTA Centers are local resources that provide assistance to business firms, at little or no cost, on marketing products and services to all levels of government.

Next, become familiar with fedbizopps (www.fbo.gov) , the government listing source for proposals (RFP’s) for most competitive bids over $25,000.  Also on the site are forecasts for all governmental agencies, detailing what they plan to buy, when to buy, and how much they plan to spend.

Other good sources for Service Disabled Veteran Owned Small Businesses are SBA/Government Contract and Business Development, which list key people at the SBA who are involved with government contracting; Firstgov.gov, where you can search millions of web pages from federal and state governments, D.C., and US> territories, many of which are not available on commercial Web sites; and GovWorks, which maintains a vendor registration database that government officials can search.  GovWorks is a service-for-fee acquisition center under the US Department of the Interior Franchise Fund/

As you do searches, focus on procurement officers and key purchasing agents long term goals.  For example, see what problems they are having and bring them solutions that your company can provide; anticipate future business opportunities by watching bills working their way through Congress to find what their priorities are, and if your expertise will help;  and again, use your relationships to talk about forward thinking ideas that will help the government run better, budget better, or make processes go smoother a key to making the government want to buy from you, instead of the competition.

Learn about the General Services Administration’s (GSA) Schedules Program.

After you have procured a contract from the government, you will be introduced to the world of GSA, the governments purchasing agent, also referred to as Multiple award Schedules (MAS and Federal Supply Schedules.  GSA Schedules help realize cost savings, save time, and control the procurement.

GSA Schedule - it's that important

Note: GSA has delegated authority to the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) to procure medical supplies under the VA Federal Supply Schedules Program.

The GSA can make long-term agreements to buy from a business at “most favored customer” rates.  This lets the government buy quickly without going through competitive bidding, and can be very profitable, and just as important, prequalifies you for whatever type of work you are interested in doing, including competitive bids.

Profit and prequalification aside, the process of getting the schedule contracts is a difficult road; it can take months to process because you will be vetted for finances, operation quality and references.  They will do a very thorough examination of your business; so you need to be prepared.  Study the criteria on the GSA site to avoid surprises.

The schedules program is not a guarantee that you will get any contracts.  It just gives you a head start.  You may not receive any sales orders, and if no business is generated over some time, you can even be canceled.

The Devil is in the Details.

Remember the above referenced attention to detail?  If you want to win contracts from the government, you need to understand that federal agencies are very detailed and precise in what they need and you have to follow the rules carefully.  11 point font does not mean 10 point font, no phone calls to the procurement agent, means just that.  Read all of the fine print and find out how they want to be contacted.

Government Business is Based on Relationships, Just Like Other Businesses

Cultivating connections with people inside the government is very important a number of key ways; you build credibility, create awareness of what you have to offer, and let them know that you are a serious contender in the marketplace.  Ultimately, your connections will allow you to be prepared before Request for Proposals (RFP) or Request for Quotes (RFQ) are issued, so the process of preparing bids will have already begun.  Having those connections, you will have a better understanding about the agency or department’s mission and requirements.  How do you cultivate these connections?  Lots of networking, such as trade-shows, hosted events, even cold calls/cold emails to key personnel.

Why Didn’t Your Proposal Win the Bid?

Finally, an advantage to you as a potential, but losing bidder is that the government, unlike the private sector, has to be much more transparent for their reason in choosing another company.  If you lose a contract in a private endeavor, you may never know if it was due to a lower bid, a golfing friend getting the job, or just bad timing, but with Uncle Sam, you have the right to a debriefing to find out exactly why you lost the bid.  The agency has to let you know what areas you may have been weak in, and what areas showed up your strengths.

So you lost your first government bid....get in line.

Debriefing requests to the federal government are actually quite common; can be helpful for your next bid, and are even useful if you are the winner of a particular bid, so its always helpful to request one, in either case, to keep you apprised of the thinking process that went on, and what strengths you led with, or weaknesses that held you back.

Obama Calls for More Small Business Contracting.

More and more attention is being focused at this time in making SDVOSB’s and VOSB a larger part of the procurement process since President Obama’s Executive Order on the Interagency Task Force on Veterans Small Business Development Act of 2008.

President Obama on small business

“In recent years, the federal government has not consistently reached its small business contracting goals,” Obama wrote in the executive order.  He went on to say “I am committed to ensuring that small businesses, including firms owned by women, minorities, socially and economically disadvantaged individuals, and service-disabled veterans, have fair access to federal government contracting.  Indeed, ….we should strive to exceed the statutory goals.”

S/F,
PrepFire Solutions
A Verified Service Disabled Veteran Owned Small Business

Service Disabled Veteran Owned Small Business (SDVOSB) Contracting Guide – A 10 Step Process to contracting with Civilian Agencies and DOD

1. Get Registered!!!!

Register your SDVOSB with the IRS. Obtain an EIN – Employee Indentification Number from the IRS – Do it online!!!!  Fast and Free!!!   www.irs.gov

Stop here before you pass "GO"


Register the Domain name of your SDVOSB
– www. “Your-SDVOSB-Name-Here”.com

– Ours is PrepFire Solutions, we registered www.prepfire.com There are a lot of different companies that can register your domain name, we have used www.godaddy.com and www.1and1.com – they can also help you develop your website and host your email for very low cost.

Obtain a DUNS Number. The Data Universal Number System (DUNS) Number is a unique nine character identification. Contact Dun and Bradstreet to obtain your DUNS number if you do not have one.

Register with Central Contractor Registration. In order to be awarded a contract from the DoD, you must be registered in Central Contractor Registration (CCR). CCR is a database which stores information relevant to procurement and financial transactions. CCR also allows you to receive rapid electronic payment of your invoices. CCR assumed all of SBA’s PRO-Net search capabilities and functions on January 1, 2004, so small businesses now need only to register with CCR.

2. Separate your SDVOSB from the pack

By identifying your product(s) or services as something unique or of good valve to the government, you separate yourself from the competition.  Knowing the Federal Supply Class or Service (FSC/SVC) codes and North American Industry Classification System (NAICS) codes for your products or services is of the utmost importance.

Separate Yourself From the Pack

3. Focus your attention on your target market or agency

Identify Your Target Market Civilian Agency or DoD. Researching DoD Personnel & Procurement Statistics will be very helpful to your SDVOSB. Pay particular attention the Standard Tabulation (ST) 28 report of products and services purchased each fiscal year by the DoD. The information on the ST28 is sorted by FSC/SVC code and provides name and location of DoD contracting offices. The ST28 report is located at the bottom of the Procurement Statistics page and can be cross-referenced with the list of Small Business Specialists within each service organization.

Aquire Your Target

4. Look for Opportunities!

Identify Current Civilian & DoD Procurement Opportunities Check the electronic version of the Federal Business Opportunities website to identify current procurement opportunities for your products or services. This site will assist you in identifying DoD, as well as other Federal procurement opportunities.

5. Familiarize Yourself with DoD Contracting Procedures

Make sure you are familiar with the Federal Acquisition Regulations (FAR) and the Defense Federal Acquisition Regulation Supplement (DFARS).

6. Investigate Federal Supply Schedule (FSS) Contracts

Many DoD purchases are actually orders on Federal Supply Schedule (FSS) contracts. Contact the General Services Administration (GSA) for additional information on obtaining FSS contracts.

7. Seek Additional Assistance as Needed

Take advantage of the resources available to assist you in the DoD marketplace. Here are just a few to get you started:

Procurement Technical Assistance Centers – Most states have Procurement Technical Assistance Centers (PTACs) that are partially funded by DoD to provide small businesses with information on how to do business with the Department of Defense. These PTACs provide training and counseling on marketing, financial, and contracting issues with little or no cost to the SDVOSB.

Electronic BusinessElectronic Business (eBusiness) provides guidance for SDVOSBs new to the DoD electronic marketplace.

Small Business Specialists – Some Defense Agencies and the Military Services have small business specialists at each of their procurement and contract management offices. These business specialists assist small businesses, service-disabled veteran-owned, in marketing their products and services to the DoD. Among the services offered, the business specialists provide information and guidance on the following:

– Defense Procurement Procedures
– Solicitation Mailing List Placement
– Identify Prime Contract and Subcontract Opportunities.

The Army, Navy, Air Force, and Defense Logistics Agency maintain the names of Small Business Specialists associated with their organizations. Links to these websites are below.

The official web site for the Department of Defense is DefenseLink. DefenseLink is the best place to find links to the Military Services and ODAs.

8. Explore All Sub-contracting Opportunities

No matter which products and services your SDVOSB offers, be sure to check out the DoD guide “Subcontracting Opportunities with DoD Prime Contractors”. This directory provides, by state, the names and addresses of DoD prime contractors, the names and telephone numbers of Small Business Liaison Officers (SBLOs), and the products and services supplied to the DoD.  Also research “The Fed 100” – which is the largest 100 Federal Government Contractors.

Sub-Contracting

The Small Business Administrations’s (SBA’s) SUB-Net is another valuable resource for obtaining information on subcontracting opportunities. Solicitations or notices are posted by prime contractors as well as other government, commercial, and educational entities.

9. Investigate Civilian & DoD Small-Business Programs

There are several DoD programs that are very helpful. Programs such as Veteran-Owned, Service-Disabled Veteran-Owned, HUBZone, Small Disadvantaged, Woman-Owned, Small Business Innovation Research, Small Business Technology Transfer, and other Minority Institutions are of particular interest. Information on these and many other DoD Small Business Programs can be found on the DoD Office of Small Business Programs website.

10. Marketing, Marketing, Marketing

After you identify your customers, research their requirements, and become familiar with DoD procurement regulations and strategies, you will be ready to market your product or service. A good way to get the attention of your target audience is to present your capabilities directly to the DoD activities that buy your products or services. Additional helpful DoD marketing resources are posted on the DoD website, including “Government Contracting: The Basics” and “Marketing to the Department of Defense: The Basics”.

Marketing Funnel

Optimizing Overlooked Search Engine Opportunities for Service Disabled Veteran Owned Small Businesses

With more than 120 million Internet domains and indexed pages for potential customers to browse, it takes a new approach to generate interest to your website, especially as a Service Disabled Veteran Owned Small Business.  Here are some basic steps to take that will help boost your web presence.

Search Engine Opitimization

All companies, big or small, struggle to be noticed by Google users.  But every company can attract a larger audience of Google traffic, and every company, big or small, can draw more Google traffic by using search-engine optimization – SEO for short.  This optimization process improves the visibility of a web site or page via the “unpaid” or “organic” search result and in the world of SEO, that is key (or at least it is according to Carter Raines and Erik Arnold at Prepfire).

This market strategy is directly related to your site’s rank among Google’s search results – the higher the rank, the more “hits” you get….it is simply that easy.  Google and other search engines have “secret” formulas that rank websites, but the basic components are widely known.  SEO rules tailor your website to optimize your site with specific ideas to up your ranking.  Traffic is directly related to your site’s rank among Google’s search results – the higher the rank, the more you get.  SEO involves tailoring your website to satisfy as many of the ranking criteria as possible.

SEO vs SEM (Search Engine Marketing)

Two of the more important ranking factors are illustrated next.  These factors alone should improve website search performance to a great extent as long as your website offers value to customers and relevant content.  These visibility improving factors are:  1. How well you address the organization and functionality of the website and 2.  The strength of keywords associated with a page on your site.

Once you have determined the best keywords to use on your site, you need to consider their placement.

In the HTML code.  The search engine ultimately associates a keyword with a webpage, and the first place it looks to read a page is at the top of the page’s coding – within the so called head tag that defines the pages overall characteristics.  (This code isn’t normally visible in a browser window; to see it, use the “source” or “page source” command.)  Incorporate the keywords you have chosen in the title, description, and keyword tags.  These are often called meta tags, and the code often begins with that word.

The title tag may be the most important place on the page to use your main keyword.  The title shows up across the top of a Web browser and is also the text that many search engines use as the hyperlink on their results page.  Therefore, use your keyword near the beginning of the title.  The title should be coherent and concise – and be six to 12 words, and the description, 12 to 24 words.  Your title and description should reinforce each other and the page’s visible content.  If you have a lot of keywords, choose judiciously, because search engines look for natural sounding language.  You can load all your keywords, even misspelled variants, into the keywords tag field.

Visible content.  Your keywords should appear frequently in the text of your website to improve SEO.  You also need to include keywords in the descriptive “alt” tags that underlie images and in the headlines and subheads atop a section of text.  Place your main keyword as close as possible, preferably in the first sentence, of your first paragraph.  Search engines like Google and Yahoo appear to give a slight preference to bold words, so bold one or two instances of your keyword.  A good rule to remember – if people find your copy worth reading, a search engine will too.

The basic premise of keyword optimization is simple:  Discover the search words that potential customers are using to find products or services like yours.  Start with Wordtracker or Keyword Discovery, which will give you insight as to what people are searching for.  The best keywords will show up on many of these searches,; then build your Web content around those words.  Choosing the best keywords is complicated also by the fact that other websites are trying to do the same thing.

No explanation required

Learning about the competitive ratio.  Generally, if a search term is popular, more websites compete using it to rank high for that search term. Yes, you want to rank high on popular terms – but realistically you should only target the search terms which you have a shot at.  The best keywords are words and phrases that are being searched by people on Google and Yahoo but that may have been overlooked by your competitors.

How do I do it??? First, draw up a list of the keywords – or keyword phrases – a potential customer might possibly search if he or she were looking for your product.  Calculate the ratio of the number of pages a search returns to the popularity of the search term.

Then, see how often users search for these terms by plugging each into keyword-tracking sources like Wordtracker, and Keyword Discovery.  Besides showing how many times these phrases are searched on average in a day or month, these tools will also suggest other relevant terms.  You may learn, for example, that blue widgets is more popular as a search term than widgets blue.

Next, run each phrase through Google.  The more websites returned, the more competition you will have with that phrase.  Then, divide the number of indexed pages by the number of daily searches; the lower the result, the more promising the term.  Most sources say the ratio should be 500 to 1 or less.

Restricting keywords.  If your ratio is higher than 1000 to 1, you will probably want to choose narrower or more specific keywords.  Blue widgets Washington DC for example, uses a geographic term for a business that deals locally.  The search may be less popular, but the competition to win it is also less fierce, and is more likely to generate a better ratio.

Because each page of a website has a different focus or objective, each should have its own keywords.  The homepage should have the most general terms, and the keywords become more tailored and specific as you burrow deeper into the site.

How your site is organized, designed, and built will affect its search-engine ranking.  Organize content into themed or “silo” categories.  Imagine how people will search for content and line up your content on that basis.  You can group similar pages together into separate directories of folders and subfolders, or you can create “virtual silos” by using links that guide a user from page to page.

Learning the basics of SEO isn’t difficult, it’s time-consuming, so you may need to rely on a Web developer for assistance.  SEO consultants can offer a variety of services, especially the more technical services, but Web site owners should educate themselves on the fundamentals.  The site should be hosted on a fast server and the page code should be debugged and comply with the website structure standards set by the World Wide Web Consortium.  Include in the site’s code a special protocol known as Sitemap, which makes it easier for visiting search engines to scan the site.  Sitemaps can be submitted directly to the search engines.

In closing, SEO isn’t a magic formula.  Nor will it drive traffic to a site that doesn’t offer anything of value to the end customer.  Still, you should be able to increase traffic dramatically using the more important of the SEO principles which we outlined above.

Thanks,
PrepFire Solutions
A Verified SDVOSB

Making Your Biz Media Savvy

Interesting article from Porfolio.com – by Romy Ribitzky

Making Your Biz Media Savvy

The Tastee Sup Shop didn’t mount a full-scale PR campaign advocating itself as the quintessential presidential stump stop before President Obama visited Wednesday to talk about small businesses. The Edison, New Jersey, restaurant doesn’t have a fancy website. And it gets by without a Twitter account.

But the amount of media attention the shop got because of the presidential visit—not to mention the future folklore allure it stands to gain—show that small businesses don’t necessarily need to have big pockets to get the media’s attention. A news hook, a celebrity visit, or a killer product launch can all help to get buzz swirling among sometimes fickle and jaded reporters.

So what’s the best course for a small business that’s trying to get out a branding message or news of a product launch so its customer base knows what’s going on?

Trying to hold a media event involves multiple moving parts, and making sure that they come together properly can be tricky, says Marsha Friedman, CEO of EMSI Public Relations, a national PR firm based in Clearwater, Florida.

“Getting a television crew to your event requires some finesse, and the format of the pitch is different than that of a press release,” she says. “A media alert is the appropriate tool which gives a TV producer or assignment-desk editor all the information they need to decide on whether the event you’re holding is of interest to them.”

When it comes to the pitch, concise and to the point is the way to go, media experts say. Since the media tends to ask the same major questions, structure the pitch to answer the following: Who, what, why, when, where, and visuals, Friedman recommends.

But even before writing a single word, do your homework. A quick Internet search can help businesses identify local (and national) reporters who cover their beat, product type, branding element, or business interest. Knowing who to send alerts to takes the pitch from a blind send to a targeted campaign that is more likely to yield results since you’re connecting reporters, editors, and producers—who have to find fresh material every day—with subject matter already of inherent interest to them.

Once you’ve identified the initial core audience, focus on the basics:

  • Who: This may sound like a no-brainer, but make sure to include your company’s name as well as the names and titles of any people who’ll be in attendance.
  • What and Why: Make sure to let editors and producers know why you’re holding a presser and what the announcement is.
  • When and Where: The worst thing about putting time and effort into creating a media opportunity is doing all that work and having no one show up. Let outlets know exactly what date and time—as well as the address—of your event. Include your expected duration, a set of directions to the venue, and a link to Google Maps, Mapquest, or mapping site of your choice.
  • Visuals: If television is your medium, make sure the crew has something exciting to shoot. Demos, graphs and charts trump talking heads any day and have a higher chance of catching the media’s attention.

Have the basics covered? Now it’s time to follow up. Editors and producers can get hundreds of emails in a given day. After you send the email, find an artful way to touch base with them that’s assertive but not overly invasive, experts say. There’s a fine line between being informative and being annoying.

If the team’s interest is piqued, find out who to keep in touch with and keep them informed of any last-minute changes and confirmations up until—and following—the event. Don’t forget to call or email on the actual day of your happening, just to make sure nothing else has come up in the meanwhile.

If holding a media circus—big or small—is not in the budget, fear not. Other avenues, such as radio or being booked as a guest commentator, analyst, or expert either on a local or national show, can go a long way toward gaining the public’s trust.

Working with a PR team can help focus your message and take the responsibility of following the news minute to minute to identify opportunities out of your already-overloaded hands. But if hiring a public relations firm is too expensive, consider doing it yourself. After all, no one knows a brand better than the person heading the company. And these days, thanks to social media, reaching out to a target audience is easier than ever, and often all it costs is time.

“With access tools like HARO [Help a Reporter Out], that bring the media opportunities to you, being reactive is easy and cheap,” says Margo Schneider, vice president at Ketchum, a full-service global public relations firm based in New York.

The same search and pitch tips still apply here. Find out where your audience is communicating, drop in and listen to the conversation, and jump in where it makes sense, social-media and PR experts say. It’s important not to bombard your Twitter, Facebook, and other social-media platforms just with information about your brand. Rather, find out where people are already talking about a similar product or need and give them information of value.

“Your audience is actively seeking you, or your product, through online research. Make sure you’re active in their arena so you can be found,” says Katherine O’Hara, vice president of New Jersey-based S3, an advertising, media, and public relations firm. “Blogging creates HTML-based text that is tapped by search engines and smiled upon given its constant refreshing of content.”

Building up respect and the reputation of a trusted brand will get companies noticed, especially when reporters are looking for good sources. Sure, it may take more time out of your busy day, but if you don’t have the public relations team or political machine on the scale that the president does, taking a few hours a day to interact with your customers and the media people who follow your brand can result in a booking. Once you connect with a journalist, “make the most of this opportunity by asking the reporter to link to your blog or mention your Twitter handle,” suggests O’Hara. And while most outlets don’t pay a guest-appearance fee, the publicity that comes out of being tagged an expert can be priceless.

Another way to get noticed is by sharing insightful information with the community. “Build case studies of how you’ve tackled challenges all small businesses are facing (e.g., surviving the recession) or unique challenges you’ve tackled or tools you’ve employed with breakthrough results,” says Marie Wiltz, senior media specialist with Ketchum. Executives can take that a step further by writing byline pieces on leadership, management, and/or the issues that small businesses are facing, adds Wiltz.

To be even more relevant, “be ready to divulge real business challenges—cash-flow issues, mistakes you’ve made, and how you’ve dealt with them—these are the things the small-business media are looking to share with their readers who want key learnings,” says Schneider.

Finally, get in front of the crowd as much as possible. Speaking engagements are still one of the best ways to get yourself out there, O’Hara says. “It places you in front of a captive audience while positioning you as an expert. Make sure to promote such engagements on your website, blog, and fan page. Even if people aren’t able to attend, it adds weight to your credentials.”

SDVOSB Marketing Part 1: Building Relationships Online

SDVOSB Marketing Part 1: Building Relationships Online

Keeping your head above water for a SDVOSB in a tough economy means trying new strategies to obtain sought after customers and keeping them.  Traditional marketing may not be enough anymore, especially as the market turns more and more to cyberspace.

Blogging can be a very successful relationship builder, but…the best approach to blogging is not necessarily to hard sell your products.  Successful bloggers use several inventive devices to get the attention of their audience in a blogging world of thousands of messages.  One of the most obvious, but still very useful devices is to educate your audience.  If they are out there reading your blog and finding value in what you are blogging about then they will return for more information.  Engage them with honest, interesting content, which builds trust in you, ergo trust in your product and/or company.   Another excellent way to build trust is to promote the products of your customer base and the products of your potential customers in your blogs, showing what they do well.

Again your are helping your customers become more successful.  If customer X has something new that you are excited about, let others know about. In their minds you have become part of “the team”.

Send out your blog to your e-mail list.  Start with a sentence or two to capture their curiosity or interest.  Add links that may be of interest to your audience, or list event calendars that tie your business and theirs.

In a nutshell, EDUCATE, PROMOTE OTHERS, USE YOUR LIST, NO “I” OR “WE”

R/S,
Sonja (at) PrepFire

Vet-Force

We recently attended our first meeting as a member of VET-Force www.vet-force.org One word comes to our mind “Outstanding”.  They have a monthly meeting which you can attend in person in Washington DC or by teleconference if you are outside the DC area.   At PrepFire, we absolutely love to volunteer, give back, and help fight for veterans rights!  We truly believe that the oath veterans have taken to protect and serve is not always appreciated.  Anytime we can fight for better laws/opportunities for vets we will do so.  We urge all of you to do the same.  Get involved!  Get to know the policies that are out there!  VET-Force is an organization that is fighting for Veteran’s rights everyday and they need our support.

Vet-Force Mission Statement

The Veterans Entrepreneurship Task Force (VET-Force), organized in 1998, to advocate for the development and passage of Public Law 106-50, the Veterans Entrepreneurship and Small Business Development Act of 1999, wherein Congress realized that the United States must provide additional assistance to veterans, particularly service disabled veterans, with forming and expanding their own small businesses, and thereby enabling them to “realize the American dream that they fought so hard to protect.”

The VET-Force, which is composed of over 200 organizations and affiliates representing thousands of veterans throughout the United States; a high percentage of which, are small businesses; has made it their mission to monitor the implementation of the programs, agencies, and organizations referenced under the law and to present a strong unified veterans’ voice for virtually all of the major veterans groups, as well as, veteran entrepreneurs; and to advocate for opportunities for veterans, particularly disabled veterans, seeking assistance to succeed in small business and self-employment.

Though PL 106-50 did much to establish the infrastructure and goals for federal and prime contracting for veterans and service disabled veterans, evidence shows that the agencies did little to get contracts to veterans; and with no accountability required, government agencies, and especially their prime contractors, failed to ever meet the minimum 3% goals for service disabled veteran business owners.

Thus the VET-Force continues to advocate for additional legislation, as in October 2003, when Congress and members of the administration passed legislation that was signed into law by the President. Under that Public Law, 108-183, a Veterans Procurement Program for Service Disabled Veteran Business Owners was created. Contracting officers were authorized more “tools to work with” to achieve the mandatory minimum 3% requirements of the law. Now procurement officials can restrict or sole source contracts exclusively for Service Disabled Veteran Owned Businesses (SDVOBs). Though the veterans’ community has had a great deal of optimism surrounding this piece of legislation, there is still a lack of urgency within many of the agencies to implement the program.

Therefore, the VET-Force will continue its vigilant oversight of legislation and continue its advocacy of ideas in the areas of acquisition, planning, marketing, and outreach to ensure that veterans and service disabled veterans receive the full benefits of this program as promised to them by Congress, and that the language of the law is implemented “expeditiously and transparently,” now as opposed to later!

For additional info about the Task Force and the Veterans Procurement Program and other initiatives Go to:
www.VET-Force.org, www.VVA.org or www.ASDV.org.

Note: VET-Force meets monthly in the Nations Capitol to discuss the issues pertinent to the success of Veteran Business Owners. For more information contact Joe Wynn at JoeWynn@VetsGroup.org.