Legion to host veterans’ small business forum

The American Legion’s Washington, D.C., office will host a two-hour veterans’ small business forum on Oct. 15 at noon (EDT). It is one of a continuing series of such sessions sponsored by the Veterans Entrepreneurship Task Force (VET-Force), a nonprofit organization promoting government legislation and policies that aid veteran-owned small businesses (VOSBs) and service-disabled veteran-owned small businesses (SDVOSBs).

To attend the VET-Force Veterans Small Business Forum, register online by Oct. 10. Click here to register. The forum will be held on the seventh floor of the Legion's Washington, D.C., office, 1608 K St., NW.

Topics of discussion include the bill that was introduced on July 31 by the U.S. House of Representatives. If enacted, the bill would clarify the definition of a VOSB, and it would make the Small Business Administration responsible for verifying the eligibility of VOSBs and SDVOSBs to bid for government contracts. That is currently the job of the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA).

The proposed legislation was written in answer to a series of Government Accountability Office reports, beginning in 2009, that strongly criticized VA’s verification system. The VA system was said to be, at once, unwieldy and complex enough to discourage many veteran entrepreneurs from seeking government work while being vulnerable to fraud and abuse by companies that use veterans as "fronts" to gain government contracts while the businesses are actually being operated by non-veterans.

VET-Force Veterans Small Business Forum participants plan to discuss the progress in policies and procedures that VA has made to date to make the verification process more accessible while discouraging misuse. They too will discuss what measures are still needed to correct deficiencies.

Another topic of discussion on the agenda is The American Legion’s filing of an amicus curiae ("friend of the court") brief in a complex federal court case challenging court decisions which seemingly uphold VA’s negative stand on a law that appears to require the government agency to use small business set-aside contracts when two or more businesses owned by service disabled veterans can provide needed goods at reasonable prices.

Andre Gudger, director of the Office of Small Business Programs at the Department of Defense (DoD), has been invited to the forum. He is to outline what his office is doing to increase opportunities for VOSBs who wish to do contract work with the DoD.