July 20, 2010, 08:00:00 AM
Speaking at the annual National Veterans Small Business Conference, Shinseki said, “T4 is a win-win-win strategy: Veteran-owned businesses win by getting more contracting opportunities; VA wins by getting the contractor support it needs more quickly, with less risk, reduced costs, and in a more manageable form; and all Veterans win by getting better services and support from a transformed VA.”
Shinseki said VA will soon launch a request for proposals for an up to five-year program of multiple awards to firms that will perform as prime contractors or subcontractors to meet the full range of VA’s long-term technology needs. T4 will award up to 15 prime contracts, at least four of which are reserved for service-disabled Veteran-owned small businesses and three for Veteran-owned small businesses.
The acquisition strategy provides greater opportunity for Veteran-owned small businesses to compete as prime contractors. Over the five years, VA anticipates the program may approach $12 billion in support of IT programs. Large firms awarded prime contracts will have very aggressive subcontracting goals for both small and Veteran-owned businesses. To ensure the subcontracting goals are met, VA will have the right to reserve set-asides for those businesses at the task-order level.
T4 will be managed and administered by VA’s
Shinseki said transparency of transactions will be critical. Awards and results will be posted on the Web and the goals for small businesses will be monitored aggressively. He estimated that the T4 strategy will enable Veteran-owned small businesses to receive $800 million to $1 billion in contracts. The strategy will also give industry greater insight into VA’s total IT needs, resulting in better solutions with less risk and lower costs.
Shinseki told conference attendees the new strategy is one more way VA strives to enhance opportunities for Veterans to participate in the nation’s economic recovery and VA’s business processes. He cited other examples:
· VA exceeds the government’s goals for purchasing from small businesses, Veteran-owned and service-disabled Veteran businesses;
· To improve chances for Veterans’ small companies to do business with the government, VA has an “industry innovation competition,” underway with one of its goal to make it easier for Veteran owners to enter the federal marketplace;
· The department has started a mentoring program to encourage large contractors to help small businesses improve operations and to rely more on Veteran-owned subcontractors.
Shinseki said VA is also cracking down on contractors who represent themselves fraudulently as Veteran-owned small businesses. As the result of investigations by the VA Inspector General, an owner of a construction company was recently arrested for falsely claiming Veteran status to win a $5.7 million construction contract. VA moved quickly to suspend the individual and his company from future contracts. VA has established a committee to expedite suspensions and debarment from federal business.
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