National Veteran Business Development Council
by Keith King
For the last two years we have been working on launching the National Veteran Business Development Council (NVBDC), a new Veteran Business Certification program to help our Veteran Business Owners to be able to share in the Supplier Diversity spend of Corporate America. We have been blessed to have a great group of people join us to make this program work. Our team consists of Veteran and non-Veteran Business leaders who share the same passion to help our Veterans succeed.
The bottom line is that the Minority and Women Owned businesses have been very successful in working with Corporate America and participating in their purchasing process for almost 40 years. Since 1999 when the Federal Government established the Veteran and Disabled Veteran Business classification we have had almost no participation with Corporate spend. The single most cited reason is a lack of a Certification program that is acceptable to them. Well, with the hard work of our dedicated Officers and Board members, we have created the certification program that Corporate America has accepted and the Veterans will be proud to earn.
We believe that our certification program is the one opportunity that will benefit every Veteran Business Owner, their family, their community and the Nation by giving them the certification they will need to do business with the leading corporations in America!
The National Veteran Business Development Council (NVBDC) is the certification 501c3 non-profit organization for Veteran Owned (VOB’s) and Service Disabled Veteran Owned Businesses (SDVOB’s) that will effectively remove the block from sharing in the supplier diversity spend of Corporate America due to a lack of certification.
We are pleased to announce that Corporate America is supporting the NVBDC certification program and have the written letters of support from GM, Kellogg’s, Consumers Energy and others to back up our claim. We are also working with the VA, SBA, and other government agencies to reach agreement on supporting the NVBDC efforts.
Please go to www.nvbdc.org to check us out.
National Veteran Business Development Council 313-446-6885
U.S. Army 1969-1971 Vietnam Veteran
A good plan is needed for the VA
7:23 p.m. EDT October 13, 2014
Give the new Veterans Affairs Secretary Robert McDonald a chance. He has been tasked with a major overhaul of the sprawling, inefficient and often ineffective federal department.
He has been charged with cleaning up a host of scandals and then organizing and streamlining a vast bureaucracy. He has been on the job only a short time. Already the steady stream of scandals has quieted, so he is obviously doing something right.
One of the things he is doing right is examining the entire apparatus. Naturally, that will involve the Wilmington Veterans Affairs Medical Center as well. Any time an organization takes a close look at its down organization, changes are bound to be made. As the Wilmington Director Robin Aube-Warren noted in an interview, McDonald has a plan to move the VA forward. “That hasn’t been shared yet. And I don’t know what those changes will be, and we’re all anxious to see what he has in mind.” That is only natural.
No matter what changes may come, some people will be dissatisfied.
The important thing is that Secretary McDonald has a plan.
Naturally, when a secretary takes over a department in upheaval and the center of a monthslong public outcry, the first job is to get things settled down and to fix the emergencies. The next job is to find the right people to develop a thorough review of the problem and to come up with a sensible, affordable and farsighted strategy to fix the problem.
That will take time.
The VA serves a lot of Americans who sacrificed for the rest of us. We must be sure that they are given the proper treatment. We also must make sure the VA’s strategy takes into account the stewardship of its resources. No plan will be perfect. But a plan can be very good. We need a good one.
How I taught my employees to not steal from my business
Any entrepreneur who has ever launched a cash-driven business knows that despite their best efforts and faith in the good of humanity, theft is going to occur at some point in time. This became brutally apparent to me in my chosen field of designing and launching restaurants.
In the first few months of my first restaurant start-up, one of my managers approached me in the kitchen and said, “Wow … you’re doing really well. Business is booming. You must be making a fortune.” That statement chilled me to the bone. How could a manager who had no access to a P&L, a general ledger or my accounting software assume the business was doing well?
She saw the cash registers all day, as did all of my employees.
When I looked at my front counters, what I had originally viewed as a POS register system now more closely resembled an ATM. Not wanting to have employee theft bleed me dry into business oblivion, I considered all the usual security options: security cameras, cash-drawer audits, etc.
I opted instead to be preemptive and combat the potential for employee theft with knowledge and training. I believed that if I could cure the disease (a theft-oriented mindset) I wouldn’t have to spend my time constantly reacting to the symptoms (cash shortages). A risky gamble to be sure … but it worked.
Ten Managers, $10,000 Dollars and Ten Invoices
I scheduled a meeting with my hourly managers and gave them their mission: “I’m going to give each of you $1,000 dollars and ten invoices. We’ll sit at one of our large tables and you’ll work together to get the invoices paid. Whatever is left over you can keep.”
I then gave them the option of clocking in to be paid their hourly wage instead of keeping the leftover cash. It’s no surprise that no one clocked in and took the cash option instead. My trap was set and the bait had been taken.
We all arrived at the restaurant after hours and the managers took their seats around the table. I gave each of them $1,000 in one dollar bills, ten invoices, a notepad and a calculator. Their mood was excellent in anticipation of a substantial cash bonus. Let the games begin.
After my managers had paid the bills and divided up the remaining cash, the change in their mood was palpable. What had started as exuberance quickly dissolved into disappointment. My ten managers soon realized they would have made more money had they punched the time clock instead of taking the cash option.
The manager who had inspired this exercise then asked me, “Why would you kill yourself working 90-hour weeks only to end up making less than we do?”
While that was a painful question, it was infinitely less painful than their original belief that I was “making a fortune.” I explained to her that as the business grew the profitability would as well (hopefully), and my managers would equally profit in proportion to the business.
From that day forward my managers – armed with actual knowledge of real business expenses – protected my restaurant with more ferocity than a rabid pit bull on crack cocaine. What had originally been a potential for theft became a ring of security that money can’t buy.
As I taught my young management staff about the intricacies of controlling business expenses, they all became adept at pinching pennies so tightly that Abe Lincoln would wince in pain.
We still had security cameras and anti-theft procedures in place, of course, but changing the perspective of my management team cured the root cause of the problem. I never had to fire an employee for theft at that restaurant, and 90% of the employees that opened that restaurant with me were there years later when I sold it.
Changing their perspective of “fortune” based on a cash register actually saved me a fortune and kept my business profitable in the long-term. Do you think the same approach with your employees might do the same for your business?
Michael Kaplan is the founder and CEO of Phase 2 Advantage, a consulting company that provides entrepreneurship and business management training for military and academic organizations. His most recent book, The Prior-Service Entrepreneur: Providing Military Veterans with the Competitive Skills to Start a Successful Business, has earned a 5-star rating on Amazon and is currently used as a course textbook in numerous business and entrepreneurship training programs throughout the United States.
VA ‘Firings’ Have Begun — Short Takes
The firings have begun…Though this is cause to release an employee at any time, it looks good for the VA that a high-ranking official gets the boot—even though it’s unrelated to the VA health care system.
VA begins firing process for embattled procurement official
By ANDY MEDICI
Veterans Affairs deputy secretary Sloan Gibson has proposed firing the senior contracting official who allegedly pressured employees to award a contract to reverse auction company FedBid.
Susan Taylor, deputy chief procurement officer at the VA’s Veterans Health Administration, pressured contracting staff through repeated emails and requests in 2010 to accelerate the acquisition process and to pick FedBid for the contract, according to the IG report released Sept. 26.
The VA was working on its own internal reverse auction process at the same time, and Taylor wanted to award a contract to FedBid before that system was finished, the IG wrote. She also repeatedly sent FedBid internal and inside information about the process and internal review of the FedBid contract.
The small-business conundrum
Recent news reveals that federal agencies overstated their success last year in contracting with small businesses that face socioeconomic disadvantages. It turns out that the Small Business Administration’s inspector general identified over $400 million of contract actions awarded to ineligible firms, thus overstating SB goaling performance in FY13.
While reasons for misreporting are one issue, the perennial issue of meeting SB goals persists. Some people joke that when an agency fails to meet their SB target, the response is to increase it. Does goal setting work? Everyone agrees with fundamental ideals of small entrepreneurs and businesses bringing fresh ideas, outlooks, and solutions to government and societal problems.
Senator Bernie Sanders: Paul Ryan is Dead Wrong to Propose Cuts in Social Security and Disabled Veterans’ Benefits
BURLINGTON, Vt.—(ENEWSPF)–October 9 – U.S. Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) this week strongly disagreed with a proposal by House Budget Committee Chairman Paul Ryan (R-Wis.) to cut Social Security and disabled veterans’ benefits to pay for more defense spending.
Ryan has resurrected a discredited plan to change the formula that the federal government uses for calculating annual cost-of-living adjustments. According to published reports, Ryan said he wants to boost the Pentagon budget by taking what he called “savings” in Social Security and other programs pegged to annual adjustments in the consumer price index.
Ryan’s so-called chained consumer price index, or chained CPI,would adopt a formula that would intentionally undercount inflation and result in significant cuts for Social Security recipients and disabled veterans.
An Interview with VA Secretary Bob McDonald
Good moves for VA accountability
In a welcome move, the new head of the Department of Veterans Affairs, former Proctor & Gamble CEO Bob McDonald, has taken swift advantage of new powers granted to him by Congress to announce he will fire four senior executives for poor performance and wrongdoing. More disciplinary moves are expected.The fired executives include hospital directors in Pittsburgh, Pa., and Dublin, Ga., and a regional hospital director in Alabama. A fourth executive, the deputy chief procurement officer for the Veterans Hospital Administration, was fired after an inspector general’s report found that she had improperly steered contracts and interfered with the IG’s investigation.
Disabled Veterans Memorial Ceremony
Past Performance Evaluation Procedures–Past Performance – CPARS
A satisfactory past performance record is increasingly important in today’s competitive marketplace. Unfortunately, we are seeing too many Contracting Officers threatening, or issuing, unfavorable past performance evaluations to gain concessions from the Contractor.
This is improper. An unfavorable past performance evaluation could jeopardize a contractor’s chances of future contract awards. It is therefore important that you know your rights if you get an unfavorable past performance evaluation.
Past Performance Evaluation Procedures
FAR 42.1503 sets forth the procedures for evaluating past performance and gives the contractor an opportunity to respond. The following steps must be followed:
- Unless someone else is designated in the agency procedures, the Contracting Officer is responsible for evaluating past performance.
- The agency may perform interim evaluations.
- The evaluation should include a clear non-technical description of the principal purpose of the contract or task order. The evaluation must accurately depict the contractor’s performance. Evaluations based on speculation are improper.
- Evaluation factors for each assessment shall include, at a minimum, the following: (i) Technical (quality of product or service); (ii) Cost control (not applicable for firm-fixed-price or fixed-price with economic price adjustment arrangements); (iii) Schedule/timeliness; (iv) Management or business relations; (v) Small business subcontracting (as applicable); and (vi) Other applicable factors.
- The agency shall promptly provide its evaluation of a contractor’s performance, including both negative and positive evaluations. The contractor will receive a CPARS-system generated notification when an evaluation is ready for comment.
- Contractors shall be given up to 14 calendar days from the date of notification to submit comments, rebutting statements, or additional information. [CPARS Manual says contractors have up to 60 days to respond, but if they do not respond within 14 days, evaluation is sent to PIPRS as “pending” but can still be relied upon in source selection decisions].
- A person a level above the contracting officer must consider disagreements between the parties regarding the evaluation.
- The ultimate conclusion on the performance evaluation is a decision of the contracting agency. Copies of the evaluation, contractor response, and review comments, if any, shall be retained as part of the evaluation.
- The Government then prepares and submits the past performance evaluation electronically in the CPARS. This evaluation, plus any contractor comments, are automatically transmitted to PPIRS.
- The Government shall use the past performance information in PPIRS that is within three years (six for construction and architect-engineer contracts) of the completion of performance of the evaluated contract or order, and information contained in the Federal Awardee Performance and Integrity Information System (FAPIIS) g., terminations for default or cause.
Challenging a Past Performance Evaluation
Both the Court of Federal Claims and the Boards of Contract Appeals have accepted jurisdiction to hear disputes over a contractor’s past performance evaluation. In BLR Group of America v. United States, 94 Fed. Cl. 354 (2010), the Court of Federal Claims noted that the past performance procedures set forth in FAR Part 42.15 are mandatory and should be read into the contract. A contractor’s claim that the Government did not fairly follow those procedures therefore establishes the right to file a claim under the Contract Disputes Act. Unfortunately, in the BLR case the contractor never submitted a request for a Contracting Officer’s Final Decision and the case was dismissed on that basis.
So, if you are not satisfied with the Government’s past performance evaluation, ask for a Contracting Officer’s Final Decision. You can, of course, always try to resolve your dispute before commencing litigation. If you cannot not resolve the disagreement, you should contact an experienced Government Contract attorney to assist you in an appeal to the Court of Federal Claims or Board of Contract Appeals. We are here to help.
By SDVOSB Law
John Manfredonia | Manfredonia Law Offices, LLC
120 Piermont Road | Cresskill, NJ 07626
t: 201-227-1722 | f: 201-227-1936
VA “Housekeeping” is Light Dusting
by Sarah Schauerte
On October 7th, the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs (“VA”) announced its intentions to fire four senior officials as part of a crackdown following a nationwide scandal over long wait times for veterans needing medical care, and falsified records covering up the delays.
House cleaning? More like a light dusting. Of the rocking chair in the second guest bedroom. With a dry paper towel.
Let’s take a look at these four individuals who are being used as examples. One, the director of a medical clinic in Georgia, was already halfway out the door, having announced his retirement in September. So his “firing” for all intents and purposes doesn’t even affect him.
Another is Susan Taylor, the former deputy chief procurement officer who is accused of steering VA contracts to a specific company. Taylor had tried to leave the VA for the Department of Energy after a scathing Office of Inspector General report said she acted inappropriately, but the Energy Department has rescinded that offer.
The third is Terry Wolf, the former director of the Pittsburgh VA Healthcare System. She was placed on paid leave in June shortly after reports that Legionnaires’ disease spread through the VA and infected more than 20 veterans.
These three individuals proposed for firing are safe for now. Being “proposed” for firing means an individual goes through a process that was established by recently passed law. This law provides that the VA secretary can decide to fire or demote someone, giving the employee advance notice so they can respond to the charges. After the VA receives the response, if it decides to proceed with the firing, the employee has seven days to appeal that decision to the Merit Systems Protection Board. The Board has 21 days to rule on that decision, and failure of the Board to reach a decision makes the secretary’s decision final.
Most likely, these employees will get the axe given public outcry.
But considering these proposed firings come months and months after their behavior, it seems non-sensical to put a process in place to double-check that lying to government officials and engaging in other shenanigans means you shouldn’t be entrusted to protecting our veterans. (It’s true, however, that government employees have a constitutional property right to their jobs, but that’s a whole other issue).
Why does the VA keep doing this to itself? Ask any veteran about what is going on lately with VA medical care and what they think of the VA, and the veteran will either share rage or extreme sadness. So why does the VA keep bringing such criticism upon itself? These three individuals “proposed” for firing have been written up in the media for scandalous behavior that affects the health and welfare of our veterans – how is it that months later they’re being “proposed” for removal?
And only three individuals? It takes many, many problems and people to make a system as broken as the VA, and a thorough house cleaning, complete with termite tents and flea bombs, is what we need here.
Did you find this article informative? If so, sign up for Sarah Schauerte’s weekly blog on veterans issues at: www.legalmeetspractical.com.