Congressman seeks small-business harmony between SBA and VA

The Veterans Affairs Department is not following the SBA's regulations as closely as it claims, says the chairman of the House Small Business Committee's Contracting and Workforce subcommittee.

Rep. Richard Hanna

Rep. Richard Hanna wants VA and SBA to better serve businesses owned by veterans. 

Rep. Richard Hanna (R-N.Y.), who will co-host a hearing March 19 on small-business inconsistencies between the Veterans Affairs Department and the Small Business Administration, would like to see officials find ways to improve their registration systems to make it easier for service-disabled veterans.

"There's a tendency on every bureaucratic group to defend what it's doing, no matter how undefendable it may seem to other people," Hanna said in a recent interview with FCW.

The chairman of the Small Business Committee's Contracting and Workforce Subcommittee said VA is not following SBA's regulations as closely as they say they are.

"We have an obligation to both the taxpayers and our veteran small business owners to ensure that these programs are efficient and transparent," Hanna said.

Hanna's subcommittee, along with the Veterans Affairs Committee's Oversight and Investigations Subcommittee, will examine the challenges facing small businesses owned by service-disabled veterans that intend to be federal contractors. SBA and VA have different systems and regulations for handling and accrediting companies.

To fix the problem, there must be tradeoffs and compromises. The subcommittees want to delve into the regulatory and interpretive differences and also find how they affect companies seeking business.

Hanna said SBA could adopt rules to do all the certifications and registrations for small companies, but it does not have the budget to do that. At the same time, VA officials are not quite as adept as SBA officials in defining what a small business is exactly. The main point is to get both SBA and VA following the same rules.

"We're not here to damn them. We're here to help small businesses," he said.

Hanna would describe the hearing as successful, "if we could go through this hearing and have them look at one another and say, 'You know, there are things we can do better, and there are clearly cases that we are not nearly as aligned as we tell people we are.'"

The hearing will be webstreamed live, starting at 2 p.m. ET. To watch it online, click here.

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