Every year, the federal government awards a portion of contracting dollars specifically to businesses owned by veterans. Also, small businesses owned by veterans may be eligible to purchase surplus property from the federal government.
Veteran Small Business Certification (VetCert) program
Certification with SBA allows service-disabled veteran-owned small businesses (SDVOSBs) to compete for federal sole-source and set-aside contracts across the federal government. Certified veteran-owned small businesses (VOSBs) have additional opportunities to pursue sole-source and set-aside contracts at the Veterans Administration (VA) under the VA’s Vets First program.
SBA’s new Veteran Small Business Certification program implements changes from the National Defense Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2021 (NDAA 2021) which transfers the certification function from the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) to SBA as of January 1, 2023. The transfer will provide veterans with a central support point for their small business certification needs.
The final rule, which provides program and governance guidance, was published in the Federal Register on November 29, 2022.
Benefits of SBA certification
Certification allows SDVOSB firms the opportunity to compete for sole-source and set-aside contracts across the federal government. Certified VOSBs may also compete for sole-source and set-aside contracts from the VA.
Self-certified firms seeking these restricted-competition opportunities must apply to SBA for certification by December 31, 2023.
To apply for certification with SBA as a VOSB or SDVOSB, a firm must meet the following requirements:
Be considered a small business, as defined by the size standard corresponding to any NAICS code listed in the business’s SAM profile.
Have no less than 51% of the business owned and controlled by one or more veterans.
For certification as a SDVOSB, have no less than 51% of the business owned and controlled by one or more veterans rated as service-disabled by the VA.
For those veterans who are permanently and totally disabled and unable to manage the daily business operations of their business, their business may still qualify if their spouse or appointed, permanent caregiver is assisting in that management.
For a full list of eligibility requirements, see the final rule published in the Federal Register.
Certification transfer from the VA and one-year extension
Firms verified by the VA Center for Verification and Evaluation (CVE) as of January 1, 2023, are automatically granted certification by SBA for the remainder of the firm’s eligibility period.
SBA intends to grant a one-time, one-year extension of certification to current VOSBs and SDVOSBs verified by the VA as of the transfer date on January 1, 2023. This additional year will be added to the existing eligibility period of a current participant.
New applicants certified by SBA after January 1, 2023, will receive the standard three-year certification period.
Grace period for self-certified firms
The NDAA 2021 grants a one-year grace period for self-certified SDVOSBs until January 1, 2024. During the grace period, self-certified businesses have one year to file an application for SDVOSB certification and may continue to rely on their self-certification to compete for non-VA SDVOSB set-aside contracts.
Self-certified SDVOSBs that apply before January 1, 2024, will maintain their eligibility through the expiration of the grace period until SBA issues a final eligibility decision.
VOSBs and SDVOSBs seeking sole-source and set-aside opportunities with the VA must be certified – there is no grace period.
How to apply for certification
SBA will begin accepting applications for certification on January 9, 2023. A link to the application portal will be posted at a later date.
Through the application portal, you will be able to:
Access checklists and pre-application guides
Check your firm’s eligibility
Create an account, login and proceed with an application
SDVOSBs may self-certify their status through 2023 to compete for set-aside contracts at most federal agencies. However, VA does not recognize SDVOSB self-certification. Self-certified SDVOSBs must apply for SBA certification by the January 1, 2024 to be able to compete for set-aside contracts with the federal government.