How to Certify your Veteran Owned Small Business

Hi All –

In lieu of providing my philosophy on business and life, I’ve decided it was time I kept my promise about providing information on certifying your Veteran-Owned Small Business to complete for Federal contracting dollars.

There are two methods for certification: 1) Self-certification and 2) Verification through the Department of Veteran Affairs (VA), Center for Verification and Evaluation (CVE).  This first method is the easiest as you can self-certify when registering in the System for Award Management (SAM).  You can find the detail in my previous blog posting “How to Compete for Federal Contracts” here:

Almost all Federal agencies recognize self-certification; however, the VA has their own verification program and other agencies may require CVE verification too.  I will not go into details about the process as the VA lays out the process in their website located here: 

Remember that the Service Disabled Veteran (SDV) must have complete control of the company and be the majority shareholder.  This could mean that the SDV owns more than 51 percent of the company’s shares (a super majority), so that no board members may counter the Veteran’s authority and control of the business.  Note:  Please speak to an attorney who specializes in SDVOSB prior to applying as there are some areas of how your company is structured which can trip up your application.

There are certain set-asides for Federal contracts included in the Federal Acquisition Regulations (FAR) for small businesses within subpart 19.5 – Set-Asides for Small Business: with the juicy part being that procurements over $3,000 but not exceeding $100,000 are reserved exclusively as total small business set-asides.

A good guide from the US Small Business Administration, “Veteran Owned Small Business Contracting Programs” can be found here:

As I’ve stated previously, you can self-certify as a SDVOSB as long as you have a disability rating from the VA…even if it is zero percent disability!  To be considered a Service Disabled Veteran you need a letter from the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA), or your discharge papers stating you have a service-connected disability rating ranging from 0% to 100% disability.  Of special interest to Service-disabled Veterans is Subpart 19.14.  I’ve included it below or you can go to the link:

Subpart 19.14—Service-Disabled Veteran-Owned Small Business Procurement Program

19.1401  General.

(a) The Veterans Benefit Act of 2003 (15 U.S.C. 657f) created the procurement program for small business concerns owned and controlled by service-disabled veterans (commonly referred to as the “Service-Disabled Veteran-owned Small Business (SDVOSB) Procurement Program”).

(b) The purpose of the Service-Disabled Veteran-Owned Small Business Program is to provide Federal contracting assistance to service-disabled veteran-owned small business concerns.

19.1402  Applicability.

The procedures in this subpart apply to all Federal agencies that employ one or more contracting officers.

19.1403  Status as a service-disabled veteran-owned small business concern.

(a) Status as a service-disabled veteran-owned small business concern is determined in accordance with 13 CFR Parts 125.8 through 125.13; also see 19.307.

(b) At the time that a service-disabled veteran-owned small business concern submits its offer, it must represent to the contracting officer that it is a—

(1) Service-disabled veteran-owned small business concern; and

(2) Small business concern under the North American Industry Classification System (NAICS) code assigned to the procurement.

(c) A joint venture may be considered a service-disabled veteran owned small business concern if—

(1) At least one member of the joint venture is a service-disabled veteran-owned small business concern, and makes the representations in paragraph (b) of this section;

(2) Each other concern is small under the size standard corresponding to the NAICS code assigned to the procurement;

(3) The joint venture meets the requirements of paragraph 7 of the explanation of Affiliates in 19.101; and

(4) The joint venture meets the requirements of 13 CFR 125.15(b).

(d) Any service-disabled veteran-owned small business concern (nonmanufacturer) must meet the requirements in 19.102(f) to receive a benefit under this program.

19.1404  Exclusions.

This subpart does not apply to—

(a) Requirements that can be satisfied through award to—

(1) Federal Prison Industries, Inc. (see Subpart 8.6);

(2) Javits-Wagner-O’Day Act participating non-profit agencies for the blind or severely disabled (see Subpart 8.7);

(b) Orders under indefinite delivery contracts (see Subpart 16.5);

(c) Orders against Federal Supply Schedules (see Subpart 8.4); or

(d) Requirements currently being performed by an 8(a) participant or requirements SBA has accepted for performance under the authority of the 8(a) Program, unless SBA has consented to release the requirements from the 8(a) Program.

19.1405  Service-disabled veteran-owned small business set-aside procedures.

(a) The contracting officer may set-aside acquisitions exceeding the micro-purchase threshold for competition restricted to service-disabled veteran-owned small business concerns when the requirements of paragraph (b) of this section can be satisfied. The contracting officer shall consider service-disabled veteran-owned small business set-asides before considering service-disabled veteran-owned small business sole source awards (see 19.1406).

(b) To set aside an acquisition for competition restricted to service-disabled veteran-owned small business concerns, the contracting officer must have a reasonable expectation that—

(1) Offers will be received from two or more service-disabled veteran-owned small business concerns; and

(2) Award will be made at a fair market price.

(c) If the contracting officer receives only one acceptable offer from a service-disabled veteran-owned small business concern in response to a set-aside, the contracting officer should make an award to that concern. If the contracting officer receives no acceptable offers from service-disabled veteran-owned small business concerns, the service-disabled veteran-owned set-aside shall be withdrawn and the requirement, if still valid, set aside for small business concerns, as appropriate (see Subpart 19.5).

(d) The procedures at 19.202-1 and, except for acquisitions not exceeding the simplified acquisition threshold, at 19.402 apply to this section. When the SBA intends to appeal a contracting officer’s decision to reject a recommendation of the SBA procurement center representative (or, if a procurement center representative is not assigned, see 19.402(a)) to set aside an acquisition for competition restricted to service-disabled veteran-owned small business concerns, the SBA procurement center representative shall notify the contracting officer, in writing, of its intent within 5 working days of receiving the contracting officer’s notice of rejection. Upon receipt of notice of SBA’s intent to appeal, the contracting officer shall suspend action on the acquisition unless the head of the contracting activity makes a written determination that urgent and compelling circumstances, which significantly affect the interests of the Government, exist. Within 15 working days of SBA’s notification to the contracting officer, SBA shall file its formal appeal with the head of the contracting activity, or that agency may consider the appeal withdrawn. The head of the contracting activity shall reply to SBA within 15 working days of receiving the appeal. The decision of the head of the contracting activity shall be final.

19.1406  Sole source awards to service-disabled veteran-owned small business concerns.

(a) A contracting officer may award contracts to service-disabled veteran-owned small business concerns on a sole source basis (see 19.501(d) and 6.302-5), provided—

(1) Only one service-disabled veteran-owned small business concern can satisfy the requirement;

(2) The anticipated award price of the contract (including options) will not exceed—

(i) $5.5 million for a requirement within the NAICS codes for manufacturing; or

(ii) $3 million for a requirement within any other NAICS code;

(3) The service-disabled veteran-owned small business concern has been determined to be a responsible contractor with respect to performance; and

(4) Award can be made at a fair and reasonable price.

(b) The SBA has the right to appeal the contracting officer’s decision not to make a service-disabled veteran-owned small business sole source award.

19.1407  Contract clauses.

The contracting officer shall insert the clause 52.219-27, Notice of Total Service-Disabled Veteran-Owned Small Business Set-Aside, in solicitations and contracts for acquisitions under 19.1405 and 19.1406.

Now you have the resources to understand the two methods of certification, take action to live your dreams!

With Love and Respect,


How to Join a Team without Selling Your Soul to the Devil (Subcontracting to a Prime)

As a new launched business as a Federal Contractor (I’m assuming you’ve set up your company and and are registered in SAM and have a DUNS number; see my previous blog:, your primary tasks as a company are three fold: 1) generate revenue, 2) earn a profit, and 3) develop past performance.  These task are derived from winning work.  As I have written in the past, there are two ways to work as a federal contractor — as a Prime contractor or a subcontractor.

A excellent path to finding a prime is to join the Service Disabled Veteran Owned Business Council (  The council provides an avenue to network with Prime contractors for potential teaming opportunities. It also host networking events with larger primes looking to team with small businesses.  Remember that many federal contracts have set-aside contracting goals.  This is a huge benefit to 8a, SDVOSB, SDB, WOSB, and other set-aside categories.

Make sure you have developed your core capabilities statement; the capabilities statement is your written “elevator speech.”  Potential prime contractors and US Government entities review core capability statements when looking for small businesses.

Below is an example of of core capability statement used by Whetstone Security Group, Inc. (

wsg corporate capabilities 201312040-0001

Prime contractors are looking for set-aside partners they can depend upon.  Make sure as you market your company you always deliver on promises and conduct your business with integrity.  At the end of the day, everything whether in business or personal life is about relationships.  Make sure that you and your business’ reputation is stellar and become know for doing what you say.

Once you have joined a team you will most likely be provided  a Non-disclosure agreement (NDA) and teaming agreement (TA) to sign.  See my previous blog and TA’s, NDA’s, and SubK’s. (  Review the TA closely to ensure your company is signing up for a mutually beneficial agreement.  It might be a good idea to engage a Contract Specialist to help you navigate the NDA, TA, and Subcontract process.  The primary take away is to ask for guaranteed work share.  Work share is usually provide in percentages, such as have 20 percent work share.  This means that your company will have 20 percent of the available work on an awarded contract.

Be transparent, operate with integrity, and demonstrate how your company will add value as a prime contractor’s teammate.  You have to put yourself out there and engage with other people, associations, and prime contractors to be known.  Remember, hundreds of people before you have done the same thing — you can do this!

As always, take action each and everyday to drive your business forward and grow as an individual.

With Love and Respect,