The Department of Veterans Affairs has a proud tradition of supporting small businesses. VA spent $5.9 billion on 115,939 contracts with small businesses, or 37% of our total procurement dollars in Fiscal 2010. In evaluating the overall strength of our small business programs, the Small Business Administration awarded VA an “A” rating. VA is making a difference to America’s small businesses.
When I meet with Veteran small business owners, as I did at the National Veterans Small Business Conference in August, I am continually reminded that small businesses and entrepreneurs are the engines of job creation in our economy. Veterans and taxpayers get the value they deserve and expect, while the American economy also gets a boost.
For this reason, Secretary Shinseki and I are committed personally to ensuring fair and equitable prime contracting and subcontracting opportunities at VA.
Recently, the Veterans Health Administration needed support to staff a Women Veterans Call Center. They awarded the work to a service-disabled Veteran-owned small business, T3 Tech of Reston, VA. The firm averages $500,000 in annual revenue and employs six people. This was their first contract with VA. At $298,422 in year one, with several option periods to follow, it is a very significant award for T3.
Access to our procurement decision makers continues to be a vital ingredient in the success of small businesses. At the National Veterans Small Business Conference, more than 200 of VA’s key leaders engaged the more than 4,300 members of the business community in attendance through dozens of small face-to-face working sessions. In a post-conference survey, one owner urged: “Please bring the decision makers again next year!”
Access to our senior leaders isn’t the only answer. Small businesses need access to capital and a quality workforce. The President’s American Jobs Act offers significant help for both. It cuts red tape and reduces regulation where appropriate to increase small business capital formation, making it more likely that companies on the cusp of growth can make that leap. And it provides small businesses a payroll tax cut for current employees and a complete payroll tax holiday for new jobs and wage increases for the rest of 2011 and all of 2012.
If Congress passes the American Jobs Act, companies like T3 can better afford to add additional people to their payrolls, give a raise to the six people working there today, and compete for more contracts.
Veteran-owned small businesses offer VA – and taxpayers – great pricing and they deliver great performance. The American Jobs Act promises to give those businesses the help they need to be a part of America’s economic recovery. And VA will be there to work with them in that shared effort.
W. Scott Gould is Deputy Secretary of the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs