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SBA office helps disabled vets in Federal Contracts: the SBA has created a special office to help service-disabled veteran-owned small businesses navigate the federal procurement system and gain better access to government contracting opportunities.

Small businesses owned by service-connected disabled veterans are supposed to have an advantage when it comes to winning government contracts. In 2004 President Bush even signed air executive order that requires federal agencies to implement a strategy designed to reach the government wide 3% goal for contract awards.

But federal agencies don't come close to meeting that goal. Only about 0.5% of their contracting actually goes to service-disabled veteran-owned small businesses, according to the Small Business Administration (SBA).

So, now the SBA has created a special office to help service-disabled veteran-owned small businesses navigate the federal procurement system and gain better access to government contracting opportunities.

The SBA's Office of Federal Contract Assistance for Veteran Business Owners will provide service-disabled veteran business owners with a single point of contact to help answer their questions, address their concerns, and provide clarification on procurement opportunities designated for them, including contracts set aside for service-disabled veterans.

In recent years, the federal government has taken steps to extend and expand contracting opportunities to small business concerns owned and controlled by veterans. The Service-Disabled Veteran Procurement Program in the Veterans Benefits Act of 2003 (Public Law 108-183) reflects the realization that small business concerns owned and controlled by service-disabled veterans deserve a special opportunity to engage in federal procurement opportunities.

Federal agencies are supposed to award 3% of their prime contract dollars to businesses owned by service-disabled veterans. But disabled veteran business owners say it's still too hard to win government contracts while federal agencies complain they can't find service-disabled businesses.

One of the biggest problems confronting business owners is how to effectively market their firms to government buying agents, according to a 2004 report by the SBA's Advisory Committee on Veterans Business Affairs.

To overcome this deficiency, the SBA committee said federally funded training in procurement issues must be made available to veteran-owned businesses to assure their success in securing federal procurement contracts.

The report also cited the need to educate federal government contracting officers/specialists on the requirements of the Veterans Benefits Act and to monitor their compliance in fulfilling the requirements of the law.

"It is clear that procurement issues are and will continue to be issues until federal agencies and contracting officers are educated and made aware of the law and the process to implement it within their organizations;" die report said.

The SBA's Office of Federal Contract Assistance for Veteran Business Owners also will help federal agencies meet their 3% prime and sub-contracting goals and provide guidance to government contracting officers on the criteria for service-disabled veteran business ownership and control requirements.

For more information about SBA's Office of Federal Contract Assistance for Veteran Business Owners, visit www.sba.gov/gc/indexprograms-vets.html.

The Department of Veterans Affairs also operates www.vetbiz.gov, a Web site designed to help veteran-owned companies.
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Copyright 2005, Gale Group. All rights reserved. Gale Group is a Thomson Corporation Company.

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Title Annotation:Small Business Administration
Publication:DAV Magazine
Geographic Code:1USA
Date:Sep 1, 2005
Words:472
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