GAO slaps VA for not using vets

VA erredin not setting aside a contract for a service-disabled, veteran-owned business.

The Government Accountability Office sided again with a bid protestor, saying the Veterans Affairs Department should have set aside a contract for emergency notification services to a service-disabled veteran.

GAO sustained a protest by Kingdomware Technologies of Waldorf, Md., which charged that VA officials didn’t comply with the law and regulations under the Veterans Benefits, Health Care and IT Act. It requires VA to conduct market research to find at least two service-disabled veteran-owned small businesses that could perform the work.

For the emergency notification services, VA officials awarded the contract to another company when market research conducted by Kingdomware found at least 20 service-disabled, veteran-owned business on the General Services Administration’s Federal Supply Schedule that could be potential awardees.

VA officials maintained that schedule acquisitions are not affected by the set-aside authority in the law. They said the set-asides are discretionary for schedule procurements.

In March, GAO sustained a similar protest related to an ice maker and dispenser for shipment to Sheridan, Wyo. In that protest, VA officials argued that the law affords them the option to consider when they should set aside a contract and when to compete it openly. Officials could restrict competition based on the progress VA has made on reaching its annual small business contracting goals.

GAO said the law had no such language and officials should first seek to award contracts to service-disabled veterans. GAO also disagreed with VA on similar grounds in Kingdomware Technologies’ protest.

As for Kingdomware Technologies, GAO recommended canceling the current contract and conducting another competition for the work as a set-aside for service-disabled, veteran-owned business, as long as two or more companies meet the requirements at a reasonable price.