Kerry queries DOD on missed vet set-aside goal

ORLANDO, Fla. -- Sen. John Kerry (D-Mass.) wants to know why the Defense Department, of all agencies, is falling short when it comes to contracting with small businesses owned by service-disabled veterans.

Kerry, chairman of the Senate’s Small Business and Entrepreneurship Committee, wrote to Defense Secretary Robert Gates May 15 asking for a clear statement on DOD’s commitment to meeting the governmentwide goal of setting aside 3 percent of contracting dollars for such businesses.

DOD has yet to meet that goal, which was written into law in 1999. In 2005, for example, the department set aside a little less than 0.5 percent, Kerry wrote.

With DOD accounting for 70 percent of the government’s procurement spending, its failure makes it nearly impossible for the government as a whole to meet the goal, Kerry wrote.

“America’s service-disabled veteran entrepreneurs have selflessly sacrificed for our nation,” Kerry said. “The very least their government can do is ensure a level playing field exists for them to compete for lucrative federal contracts, especially with the Department of Defense.”

One option defense agencies have for meeting the goal is the governmentwide Veterans Technology Services (VETS) contract, which the General Services Administration awarded in December 2006. It includes 44 companies owned by service-disabled veterans.

In an April 12 memo, Kenneth Krieg, undersecretary of Defense for acquisition, technology and logistics, encouraged the department to use the VETS contract.

“I urge the acquisition community and major commands to use this GSA contract vehicle to meet the 3 percent procurement goal,” he wrote.

The Veterans Affairs Department has also identified VETS as a preferred source for information technology services.

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