American Heroes Week: GSA Programs Make it Easier for Veteran-Owned Businesses to do Business with the Government

American Heroes Week: GSA Programs Make it Easier for Veteran-Owned Businesses to do Business with the Government

Photo Caption: Office of Small Business Utilization Deputy Associate Administrator Karen Pool and Amando Gavino, GSA’s Veterans Forum Executive Representative, sign the GSA Veterans Forum Charter at GSA Headquarters in Washington, DC.


While this week has been declared “American Heroes Week” in the United States, offering innovative programs that support our heroes and America’s Veteran Owned Businesses (VOB) is business as usual for GSA.

The U.S. Census Bureau reports that VOBs make up 7.5 percent of the 5.4 million U.S businesses with employees. Our acquisition professionals work tirelessly so that GSA reaches or exceeds government-mandated goals, ensuring that VOBs, including Veteran Owned Small Businesses (VOSB) or Service-Disabled Veteran Owned Small Businesses (SDVOSB), get their fair share of work in the federal market. 

And that hard work is paying off: the agency received an “A” on its FY16 Small Business Administration (SBA) Scorecard for its work in awarding a substantial portion of contracting dollars to small businesses. The annual SBA Scorecard is an assessment tool that:

  • Measures how well federal agencies reach their small business and socioeconomic prime contracting and subcontracting goals
  • Provides accurate and transparent contracting data
  • Reports agency-specific progress

According to the SBA, “the prime and subcontracting component goals include goals for small businesses, small businesses owned by women, small disadvantaged businesses, service-disabled veteran-owned small businesses, and small businesses located in HUBZones.” Last year, GSA subcontracting dollars awarded to SDVOSBs totaled more than $223.3 million marking the seventh year in a row that GSA has earned  an “A Grade” from the SBA.

Getting on GSA’s Multiple Award Schedule (MAS) is the first step for any VOB interested in doing business with the federal government. Representing 21 percent of all federal government spending, GSA’s Schedules program includes more than 16,131 contracts. FY15 GSA Schedules sales totaled $33.4 billion, with approximately $1.8 billion going to SDVOB. We understand that getting on Schedules can be intimidating and time consuming, especially for small businesses, so assistance is available to help you navigate the process. Visit our How To Get On Schedules page for more information about our free online and in-person training sessions.

Once on Schedules, it’s important to take the additional steps needed to be certified by the Vets First Verification Program and let everyone know your status. Why? As outlined in an earlier blog, the Veterans Administration is allowed to set aside specific procurement opportunities for verified SDVOSB and VOSB firms. To qualify for the program, your firm must first be verified through the Vets First Verification Program, which is set up specifically to ensure that set-aside funds are awarded to accredited firms legitimately owned and controlled by Veterans and Service-Disabled Veterans.

Vendors that are Veteran-owned, but don’t go through this verification process, can’t be listed in the VIP database and will lose out on business opportunities only available through the Veterans First Contracting Program.

A guide explaining the Veterans First Contracting Program and the Verification process can be found online at VA’s website.  The VA’s Office of Small and Disadvantaged Business Utilization website has more information too, including a link that offers assistance for every step of the verification process.

GSA has also created a variety of programs and action plans that both Make It Easier for VOBs to work with government and help agencies meet their procurement goals. They include the Office of Small Business Utilization’s (OSBU) “21-Gun Salute” – GSA’s action plan to meet and exceed the 3 percent contracting goal with the nation’s SDVOSBs.  

Advocacy for the SDVOSB community is a key component of this program. The agency is working to promote the involvement of the SDVOSB community in procurement opportunities within GSA. GSA has established a group of representatives from across the agency to promote the involvement of the SDVOSB community in:

  • Interagency partnerships
  • Partnering with veterans organizations
  • Business-to-business partnerships among SDVOSB’s

Per Executive Order 13360, GSA continues it’s commitment to Veterans with the Veterans Forum Charter, which serves the VOB community with an emphasis on SDVOSBs.

The GSA Veterans Forum was launched with the mission to:

  • Raise awareness and advocate for veteran business opportunities
  • Promote using Veteran Owned Business (VOB) and Service-Disabled Veteran-Owned Business (SDVOSB)
  • Be the champion for Veterans’ concerns in GSA and across government

Amando Gavino is GSA’s Veterans Forum Executive Representative, tasked with increasing federal contracting and subcontracting opportunities for VOBs.   

His responsibilities include developing a strategy to increase the use of veteran-owned businesses in GSA’s contracting vehicles, establishing a Government-wide Acquisition Contract (GWAC) reserved for participation by SDVOSBs, and assisting them with becoming MAS contractors.

Before joining GSA in 2014, Mr. Gavino worked in networking and communications as a member of the United States Air Force, retiring as a colonel after twenty-seven years of service. Mr. Gavino also serves as the Director of Telecommunications Services in GSA’s Federal Acquisition Service, responsible for a portfolio of contracts that provide government agencies with a diverse set of telecommunications services valued at over $3.8 billion annually. In that role, Mr. Gavino interfaces with small businesses and engages with both large and small contractors.

The Veterans Forum is meeting our goal of helping American Heroes: to date in FY17, GSA is exceeding its 3 percent SDVOSB contracting goal and continues to meet and exceed all prime small business contracting goals set by the SBA.

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