What is the Vets First Verification Program?

The Vets First Verification Program, managed by the Office of Small and Disadvantaged Business Utilization (OSDBU) within the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA), ensures that businesses claiming to be Veteran-Owned Small Businesses (VOSBs) or Service-Disabled Veteran-Owned Small Businesses (SDVOSBs) meet the eligibility requirements. Verification allows these businesses to participate in set-aside and sole source contracting opportunities with the VA. It’s a great opportunity to leverage your expertise and gain a potential revenue stream.

Here’s a comprehensive guide on how veterans can get started with the Vets First Verification Program, the benefits of the program, where to go to get started, and the potential results of applying.

Steps to Get Started:

  1. Review Eligibility Requirements:
    • Ownership: At least 51% ownership by one or more veterans or service-disabled veterans.
    • Control: Daily operations and long-term decisions must be managed by one or more veterans or service-disabled veterans.
    • Small Business Status: Must meet the Small Business Administration’s (SBA) size standards for small businesses.
  2. Gather Necessary Documentation:
    • Proof of Veteran Status: DD214 form (Certificate of Release or Discharge from Active Duty).
    • Proof of Service-Disabled Status: VA Rating Letter if applicable.
    • Business Documents: Articles of Incorporation, operating agreements, bylaws, meeting minutes, tax returns, and financial statements.
  3. Register and Apply:
    • Create a Profile in VetBiz:
      • Visit the VA’s VetBiz portal (https://www.vip.vetbiz.va.gov/).
      • Create a new profile and complete the business profile registration.
    • Submit Verification Application:
      • Complete and submit the VA Form 0877, along with the required documentation, through the VetBiz portal.
    • Pre-Assessment: OSDBU offers a free pre-assessment tool to help identify potential issues before submitting the application.
  4. Verification Process:
    • Initial Review: The Center for Verification and Evaluation (CVE) reviews the application for completeness.
    • Document Examination: CVE examines submitted documents and may request additional information.
    • Site Visit (if applicable): Some businesses may undergo a site visit to verify operations and control.
    • Decision: CVE makes a determination and notifies the business of the outcome.

Benefits of the Vets First Verification Program:

  • Access to VA Contracts: Verified businesses are eligible to compete for VA set-aside and sole-source contracts, providing a significant opportunity to secure government contracts.
  • Increased Credibility: Verification enhances the credibility and visibility of the business within the veteran community and among contracting officers.
  • Networking Opportunities: Verified businesses can join the VetBiz Vendor Information Pages (VIP) database, connecting them with other veteran-owned businesses and potential partners.
  • Training and Resources: Access to additional training and business resources provided by the VA and OSDBU.

How Long Does It Take:

  • On average, the entire verification process can take approximately 90 to 120 days from the date of application submission to receiving the final determination. However, this timeframe can vary depending on the completeness of the application, the responsiveness of the applicant, and the complexity of the business structure.

Status Updates:

  • Applicants can check the status of their application through the VetBiz portal. Additionally, the CVE may provide periodic updates via email throughout the process.

Results of Applying:

Successful verification brings numerous benefits. Verified businesses gain access to VA set-aside and sole-source contracts, which can significantly enhance their revenue streams. For example, companies like Veteran Logistics, which secured a substantial VA transportation contract post-verification, illustrate the potential opportunities available. Verified businesses are also listed in the VetBiz Vendor Information Pages (VIP) database, increasing their visibility to potential clients and partners. Additionally, this status enhances credibility and can be leveraged in marketing materials, showcasing the business’s commitment to supporting veteran initiatives.

If an application is denied, the CVE provides detailed feedback, allowing the business to address identified issues and reapply. There is also an appeals process for businesses that believe the denial was in error.

Need assistance with this process, Veterans can access the VA Verification Assistance Program through the OSDBU website or local Veterans Business Outreach Centers (VBOCs) for help with the application process and pre-assessment tools.

The Vets First Verification Program is a crucial step for veteran-owned businesses looking to access VA contracts and enhance their market position. By following the outlined steps, gathering necessary documentation, and leveraging available resources, veterans can successfully navigate the verification process and unlock valuable business opportunities.

In summary, if you’re a Veteran in need of support to start or grow your existing business located in Austin or any of the seven surrounding counties, we would love to meet with you to learn how we can help you with our services.  Get started here:  https://egbi.org/services/.

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