Service-Disabled, Veteran-Owned Small Business Program: What You Need to Know
How to Participate in the Veteran Owned Small Business Concern Program
The Service Disabled Veteran Owned Small Business Concern Program (SDVOSBCP) is a set-aside program for the award of government contracts. Each governmental buyer is supposed to set aside at least 3% of contracting awards to SDVOSBCs each year. There's actually no process to certify that a business is an SDVOSBC, you just indicate you are one when you apply for the grant. Nonetheless, the eligibility requirements are stringent, and if your SDVOSBC status is challenged, you'll need to prove your eligibility.
Making Sure Your Business is Eligible
Prove your disability.In order to meet the eligibility requirements of the SDVOSBC set asides, you’ll need to demonstrate not only that you have a disability, but also that it was connected to your service. The only determination that matters for the purposes of the SDVOSBC is a determination made by the Department of Defense or the Department of Veteran’s Affairs.
Satisfy ownership requirements.In addition to demonstrating your disability, you also need to show the company seeking the contract is both owned and run by a service disabled veteran or veterans. Specifically, you’ll need to show that:
- The service disabled veteran must own at least 51% of the company outright.
- A service disabled veteran is the highest officer in the company.
- The service disabled veteran controls management and daily company operations.
- All of the above can be demonstrated by providing the company charter, such as its articles of incorporation and bylaws.
Make sure your business qualifies as a small business.The small business size standards are determined by industry, so there are no blanket rules applying to all businesses. However, in the most general terms, a manufacturing or mining concern with less than 500 employees will qualify, and a nonmanufacturing concern with less than .5 million in revenue will qualify.
- The easiest way to determine if you qualify is by going to the SBA’s Size Standards Tool, located at .
Becoming a Contractor
Figure out the NAICS code for your business.The North American Industry Classification System (NAICS) is a standardized method of business classification according to economic sector and industry. If you’d like to become a government contractor eligible for the SDVOSBC set asides, you’ll have to know your NAICS number.
- A NAICS number is six digits long. The first two digits correspond to the economic sector, while the next four indicate the subsector, industry group, industry, and US industry, respectively.
- To find your NAICS number, start at .
Get a DUNS number.Dun and Bradstreet is a business credit ratings agency, and they assign a unique identifying number to each business, which is known as a DUNS number. Just as your Social Security number is used to look up your own personal credit report, a DUNS number is used to look up a business’ credit report.
- If you don’t have one, getting a DUNS number is easy. All you have to do is complete the free registration with Dun and Bradstreet. You won’t need any information you don’t already know and it won’t take longer than 15 minutes.
Register with the System of Award Management.The System of Award Management (SAM) is the directory listing of all companies doing business with or who wish to do business with the Federal government. Registering at is a mandatory step if you want to get a government contract. In addition to the above information, you’ll need to create a username and password for the SAM site. In addition, the following information will help government entities find you.
- Standard Industrial Classification (SIC) codes. A SIC code is a lot like an NAICS number, except used by the Department of Labor. You can find the SIC code for your company at
- Product Service codes are a numeric method of classifying the good or service provided by the contractor. You can find yours at
Pay for a Past Performance Evaluation.A Past Performance Evaluation is a report on a business issued by Dun and Bradstreet. Think of it as a background check for a business—a more detailed document than a credit report, complete with references from past customers. Although you won’t necessarily need one right away, you will need one in order to be awarded a specific contract.
- Get a Past Performance Evaluation at .
Make sure you’re listed in the Dynamic Small Business Search database.While this doesn’t necessarily help you find government customers, it does help them find you, and it takes very little effort to do. After you’ve registered with the SAM, you will be prompted to fill out a profile. When you fill out the profile, your company’s name is added to the database.
Check the listings at FedBizOpps.gov.FedBizOpps.gov is like a classified system for impending government contracts. When an agency is seeking a vendor to fulfill a contract, the terms of the contract are listed here. You can search both by opportunities and agencies.
Consider subcontracting.One way to get familiar with the process and the people in charge of Federal contracts in your industry is by subcontracting with a company who’s already been awarded a contract. The Federal Procurements Database and USASpending.gov both keep records of entities who’ve been awarded contracts.
- You can search USASpending.gov to find the size, location, funding agency, terms of the award, and more.
Apply with the agencies that award the most contracts to small businesses.The SBA grades each Federal agency each year with respect to their performance in awarding contracts to small businesses. It makes sense to apply for contracts with the agencies that consistently perform the best in terms of the proportion of funds they award to small businesses.
- You can see the report cards for the past decade at .
Reach out to the Office of Small and Disadvantaged Business Utilization (OSDBU).Each agency (such as the DOL, EPA, etc.) will have an OSDBU within their department. These offices serve to monitor awards within the department and assist contractors in obtaining awards. Establishing relationships with the OSDBU in the agency where you’re looking for contracts can pay long term dividends the next time you advance your company’s name for consideration of a government contract.
Video: VETBIZ Registration (Veteran Owned Businesses/Service Disabled Veteran Owned Businesses
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