(June 2013, Vol. 4 Ed. 4) – VetLikeMe: Thank you, Mr. Chairman, for your time. This is our second interview with you, Congressman, since you’ve been the Chairman of the House Committee on Small Business. Our initial interview was held in September 2011. Thank you for your time once again. In that 2011 interview, you stated: “Maintaining the 3% prime and subcontracting goals at every agency ensures that there are diverse contracting opportunities available to all types and specialties of SDVOSBs.” Has there been any progress made toward this objective?
REP. GRAVES: “Last year, we passed a law that seeks to enforce small business contracting goals by requiring that agencies take into account whether those goals were met when making decisions about senior employees reviews and bonuses. The fact that the federal government hasn’t met the 23 percent small business contracting goal for six consecutive years is simply unacceptable. Unfortunately, procurement officials won’t change their ways unless an incentive is added to the process, which is something that has never been done before. I’m pleased that we were able to do something to hold agencies accountable by making goal achievement an element in their employee performance plans. Hopefully, we’ll start to see some progress in this area, rather than just lip service.”
VLM: The Defense Authorization Act of 2013 takes a step in the right direction for SDVOSB. The law signed by the President on January 2 directs selected defense-related agencies to make helping SDVOSB a priority by appointing a senior executive to work exclusively on behalf of SDVOSB. Why do you think these defense-related agencies would not already have a senior executive assigned to agency small business matters? Isn’t that the overall mission of the Office of Small and Disadvantaged Business Utilization (OSDBU) within these agencies?
REP. GRAVES: “Over the last two years, the Small Business Committee has been looking closely at the ODSBU program, and we found that in many agencies the individual assigned to be the Director of OSDBU was also the Chief Acquisition Officer, Chief Information Officer, Chief Operating Officer, or the like. This meant that small business contracting responsibilities were getting the short end of the stick – instead of having the work performed by a direct report to the head of the agency, it was being pushed down to lower level employees. In the 2013 National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA), Congress made it clear that the OSDBU Director is to be a senior executive 100% focused on contracting with small businesses, including SDVOSBs.
However, it appears that agencies are listening to us, and SDVOSB contracting is improving – I believe that about 26 agencies will meet or exceed the SDVOSB goal for FY 2012.” .”
VLM: It’s well documented that veterans hire veterans. Increased contracting opportunities for SDVOSB can address this problem and decrease the Nation’s unemployment rate. Given the dismal unemployment rate of returning veterans and the sluggish economy in general, isn’t this sufficient reason to penalize federal agencies for NOT meeting the 3% minimum? Virtually no agency, except the VA and DHS, has ever met this 3% minimum procurement expenditure. Would you support any initiative to penalize federal agencies that do not meet the 3% minimum procurement levels for SDVOSB? Why or why not?
REP. GRAVES: “Last year I introduced legislation that would have prohibited the award of any bonuses to senior executives at an agency that failed to meet all of its small business goals, including the SDVOSB goal. I expect to introduce additional legislation addressing the goals early next year. However, it appears that agencies are listening to us, and SDVOSB contracting is improving – I believe that about 26 agencies will meet or exceed the SDVOSB goal for FY 2012.”
VLM: Why do you think the agency OSDBUs do not have an executive solely to SDVOSB contracting?
REP. GRAVES: “Depending on the size of the agency, there may only be one or two employees in the OSDBU office so it isn’t practical to have a senior executive dedicated to each of the small business contracting programs. I’d rather focus on making sure that all OSDBU employees and contracting officers have training on the SDVOSB contracting rules – something we mandated in the 2013 NDAA – so that everyone in the OSDBU office can identify contracts that may be suitable for SDVOSBs. ”
VLM: Thank you, Mr. Chairman, for spending time with VetLikeMe.
We now feature daily entries on the web site and Twitter on issues important to all of us. A few from the past month. We feature news regarding SDVOSB, VOSB, all veterans employment and issues important to disabled veterans.
Frank Lautenberg And The Disappearing Veterans of Congress
The death of Frank Lautenberg means that not a single one of the 115 World War II veterans who served in the Senate remain, the latest evidence of the rapid decline in members with military service. The numbers are striking. As recently as the 111th Congress, which ended January 3, 2011, there were 26 members of the Senate who were veterans. Today, twelve of those 26 are gone, due to a variety of causes from death to retirement to electoral defeat. Two more veterans — Sen. Tom Harkin (D-Iowa) and Sen. Tim Johnson (D-S.D.) — are retiring at the end of the 113th Congress next year.
That means that, at most, twelve sitting Senators will be veterans when the 114th Congress convenes in January 2015. (There is, of course, the possibility that veterans will win races next fall and add to that number.)
The story in the House is much the same. Less than one in five (19 percent) of current House members were active duty military, the lowest percentage of veterans in Congress since World War II. *(The highest percentage of veterans came in 1977, when eight in ten Members of Congress boasted some form of military service.)
The decline in service has obvious roots (the end of the military draft in the early 1970s) and huge impact on American policy making.
Sending American men and women to war is the most serious decision a Congress can make. Fewer and fewer people making those decision in the future will be able to speak from a position of experience and authority on the subject.
A Vermont National Guard outreach effort will receive $1.8 million this year for the pioneering program that informs veterans and their families about benefits they have earned, Vermont’s congressional delegation announced today.
The award is Vermont’s share of $20 million for eight states that have adopted the Vermont outreach program model and a new effort to expand the program to National Guard and Reserve units nationwide. [Full story]
– California AB 366: Expanding Eligibility for Minority
Businesses to Create Jobs
ne of the bills signed recently by Gov. Mike Pence requires the Indiana Department of Administration to give veteran-owned small businesses preference when it comes to state purchases of goods and services. [Full story]
Pennsylvania Governor Corbett Expands State Contracting Opportunities for SmallBusinesses, Veteran-Owned Small Businesses
Barrar committee sets procurement goals for veteran-owned small businesses
Governor Jindal pledges support for Veterans with new legislative proposals
Navy reaches out to veteran-owned businesses
New On the Hill
H.R. 833: To amend title 10, United States Code, to require that the Purple Heart
occupy a position of precedence above the new Distinguished Warfare Medal.
Introduced: Feb 26, 2013 (113th Congress, 2013–2015)
Sponsor: Rep. Duncan Hunter [R-CA50]
Status: Referred to Committee
Apr 09, 2013 — New Cosponsors
Rep. Candice Miller [R-MI10]
Rep. Richard Neal [D-MA1]
Rep. Ed Whitfield [R-KY1]
Rep. Cynthia Lummis [R-WY0]
Rep. Tom Cotton [R-AR4]
Rep. Elizabeth Esty [D-CT5]
Apr 16, 2013 — New Cosponsor
Rep. Steve Chabot [R-OH1]
Apr 18, 2013 — New Cosponsor
New Cosponsor: Rep. Garland “Andy” Barr [R-KY6]
S. 470: A bill to amend title 10, United States Code, to require that the Purple Heart ocupy a position of precedence above the new Distinguished Warfare Medal.
Introduced: Mar 06, 2013 (113th Congress, 2013–2015)
Sponsor: Sen. Jon Tester [D-MT]
Status: Referred to Committee
Apr 15, 2013 — New Cosponsors
Sen. Thomas Coburn [R-OK]
Jun 03, 2013 — New Cosponsor
New Cosponsor: Sen. Mike Johanns [R-NE]
Sen. John Hoeven [R-ND]
Apr 09, 2013 — Introduced
H.R. 1453: To amend title 38, United States Code, to extend the authority to provide work-study allowance for certain activities by individuals receiving educational assistance by the Secretary of Veterans Affairs.
Apr 09, 2013 — Introduced
H.R. 1412: To improve and increase the availability of on-job training and apprenticeship programs carried out by the Secretary of Veterans Affairs, and for other purposes.
Sponsor: Rep. Mike Coffman [R-CO6]
Last Action: On motion to suspend the rules and pass the bill, as amended Agreed to by the Yeas and Nays: (2/3 required): 416 – 0 (Roll no. 164).This bill’s text for status Passed the House (Engrossed) (May 21, 2013) is now available.
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VeikeMe is published monthly
Editor and publisher: Hardy Stone
Associate Editor: David Coakley
Contributing Writer: Ted Dewalt
Rep. Graves facilitated by DJ Jordan
Veteran Unemployment Problem
in the National Guard & Reserve
When considering veteran unemployment, it helps to identify which veterans one
is talking about. To make things easy, think in terms of three specific veteran
groups: those transitioning from active duty, separated veterans and the National
Guard & Reserve (NG&R).
The reality is that veteran unemployment rate as a class has ALWAYS been
lower than the national unemployment rate – see http://tinyurl.com/kjon2dr . The
fact that veterans as a class have a lower overall unemployment rate proves be-
yond any doubt that veterans have better success finding employment than
non-veterans! The current unemployment rate for all veterans is 6.6% which is less than the national unemployment rate of 7.6%.
At Veteran of Foreign Wars-sponsored VetJobs (www.vetjobs.com) we see over 20,000 veterans a day visiting the site looking for employment. For the most part those who totally separate from the military are finding work, which is not to say there are not some who have problems in this recession, but most veterans are finding work.
Where there is a veteran unemployment problem is in the NG&R. In the last ten years the NG&R have been called up so many times that employers do not want to hire them. A company cannot operate effectively with employees being taken away for 12 to 18 months at a time, multiple times. That is why the young veteran unemployment rate jumped from 10.4% in 2006 to 22.3% in 2007! Employers were not going to keep an employee that cannot be counted on to show up for work. The policy makers at the Department of Defense (DOD) still do not understand this basic business principle.
The National Guard is discriminated against more than the Reserve. When a member of the National Guard returns from overseas, should there be an emergency in the state, the governor calls up the National Guard, meaning they are away from their civilian job even more. Employers will not tolerate this, which is why USERRA (the law that protects members of the NG&R) inquiries and complaints skyrocketed from 5,333 in 2006 to 34,612 in 2010, a 700% increase directly attributable to the call-up policy.
Were it not for the high unemployment rate of the NG&R nationally (estimated at 18% plus), the overall unemployment rate for all veterans would be about 4.5% instead of 6.6%. Keep in mind that the NG&R now make up 52% of America’s fighting force.
This situation will not get better until the current flawed call-up policy is changed. Every time the active military has been reduced, after WWII, Korea, Vietnam, in the Clinton Administration and now by the Obama administration, the use of the NG&R has gone up. That is happening again. The more the NG&R is used the fewer employers will want to give them a job.
I want to emphasize that overwhelmingly employers support the military. They understand that a strong military is necessary to defend our free market economy. But employers cannot go broke supporting the military, which is exactly what DOD is doing to employers, especially small and mid-size companies.
This situation has got to change. We are making the members of the NG&R third class citizens who are expected to fight for America, die or be wounded, and not have access to the medical care available to active duty members. When NG&R return home from wars or deployments, the DOD call-up policy makes it difficult for them to have a continuum of civilian employment. This is not right and must be changed!
About the author: Since 1999 Ted Daywalt has been the president of VetJobs (www.vetjobs.com), the premier veteran employment site on the Internet. Mr. Daywalt had 7 years active duty and 21 years in the Naval Reserve, retiring as a Captain. He has held senior executive positions in the steel, electric, chemical and recruiting industries. He earned a BS from Florida State University, an MA from the University of Southern California and an MBA from Goizueta Business School, Emory University.
Tribute to a Small Business Champion
On June 3, the world of small disadvantaged business lost a big, big advocate. Hank Wilfong, the small business advisor to four Presidents, left us for higher ground. This tribute written by Wayne Gatewood:
Passing of a dear friend, Henry “Hank” Wilfong, U. S. Army Korean War Veteran and Life-Long Federal Government Small Business Advocate Extraordinaire. Received word today that our very dear friend “Hank” Wilfong passed away during the morning of June 3, 2013. Up until the day of his passing, Hank was a force to be reckoned with when it came to advocating for minority and other small businesses. I recall e-mailing Hank but a few weeks ago and asking him “just how long are you going to keep this up…this 24-7 advocacy?” His response was that he loved what he was doing and it was his life…and for certain it was. Attached are photos of Hank (albeit a bit younger), with Presidents Richard Nixon, George H. Bush, and Ronald Reagan. Also, please go to the following link to read on Hank being inducted into the Minority Business Hall of Fame as UCLA Anderson’s First African American MBA. http://blogs.anderson.ucla.edu/anderson/2012/06/hank-wilfong-ucla-andersons-first-african-american-mba-inducted-into-minority-business-hall-of-fame.html
We will miss you Hank, we will miss your energy, your amazing knowledge, your integrity, your passion, your leadership, and your love and concern for all of us in the small business community.
For those of us that knew Hank personally, I am sure you too can see him now, standing at the Pearly Gates, and although given entry, standing back asking who the Prime Contractor is that runs the Gate and demanding to examine their subcontracting plan! Watch out Heaven!! J Yes Hank, you shall be missed, but your Spirit lives on in many of us that knew you and loved you.
Prayers and blessing for Mrs. Wyllene Watson Wilfong and the entire Wilfong family.
VLM has featured unvarnished national news and editorial opinion concerning the SDVOSB community since Nov. 2009. From the beginning we’ve operated in the red, but this publication will always be free.
We hope VLM keeps the SDVOSB community informed so that decision makers will provide increased federal contracting opportunities for those of us injured while serving our country.
Aldevra, Portage, MI
Blackhorse Worldwide, LLC, Overland Park, KS
Petefish, Immel, Heeb & Hird, LLP, Lawrence, KS
Willow Design Architects, Scranton, PA
GovCon, Tampa, FL
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Editorial opinions expressed in VetLikeMe do not necessarily reflect the views of our sponsors.
Since the launching of VetLikeMe in 2009, I have concentrated on one thing: Improving the contracting opportunities for service connected disabled veteran owned business. At the time, fraud was rampant within the system because non-disabled vets could simply check a box and self-certify, and this “stolen” designation was prevalent across the government. This really, really pissed me off that people could get away with this.
Through the stalwart efforts of many people (I say PEOPLE because the VSOs do not go to bat for SDVOSB as they should have), VA established a system to certify. It’s not perfect, and there are many, many, many, many wrinkles to iron out. But we’re better off now than we were five years ago.
SDVOSB initially got most of the ink in VetLikeMe. That’s changed. We’ve expanded our coverage to veteran owned business, education for all veterans and opportunities for jobs in the American labor force.
We continue to publish the monthly newsletter and since January we’ve been in the mix with online news and information about these topics…with great success. VetLikeMe.org is a continuously updated go-to source of most all veteran news (precedence goes to SDVOSB/VOSB, of course). Feature interviews, legislative updates, no-holes barred editorial, national veterans initiatives and upcoming events are the issues we will always carry—no matter what.
I welcome you to continue supporting VetLikeMe with written submissions and suggestions, we can not get enough. We will always be a small business just like you…only we give you the veteran news for free.
Please support our sponsors and think about becoming one, it will make for better coverage all around. Thus far, only SDVOSB have taken steps to sponsor and advertise in VetLikeMe. Par for the course, I guess. If you know any fat cats that benefit from the sacrifices of SDVOSB civilian and military service, hand them a copy of VetLikeMe. Thanks. Airborne! ————— hardy stone
Hardy Stone is the editor/publisher of VetLikeMe, the nation’s only publication devoted to service disabled veteran owned business.