The Omaha District is empowering service disabled veterans through a unique program designed to offer competitive work contracts to small business owners. These veteran owned small business are making a significant impact and contributing to the overall success of the USACE mission.
The Service Disabled Veteran Owned Small Business program has consistently grown over the years and has had tremendous success, says Daniel Curado, Small Business Program Chief, Omaha District.
These small businesses offer a variety of products and services in critical areas such as construction, information technology, engineering and environmental remediation, among others.
“We are taking care of the veterans and doing our part to make sure that they get a share of the business opportunities that are presented,” Curado said. “It really works out good, for example one of our customers, Veterans Affairs, wants to make sure that disabled veterans are given the first consideration.”
According to Curado, the District can usually find an SDVOSB for any type of procurement that is needed although at times it requires some research. And since some of the District’s work is nationwide, such as environmental remediation and disaster relief, business owners are not limited, but are encouraged to bid on larger projects as well.
In the event of an emergency or natural disaster work may be required to be performed outside the continental U.S. in places like Puerto Rico or any other of its outlying areas.
“Currently we have some emergency contracts that are open nationwide for hurricane and disaster relief assistance,” Curado said. “In the past we’ve awarded contracts to service disabled veteran owned businesses to go to Puerto Rico and work in construction, roofing and electrical.”
The program is governed by the Small Business Act and is part of Defense Department’s Office of Small Business Programs, both of which provide federal oversight and recommend that at least three percent of federal contract dollars be allocated to disabled veteran owned small businesses.
The small business office works closely with different project managers and with the contracting office to ensure that the veterans are being given appropriate consideration based on the type of contract being solicited.
”It almost feels like I get to be the protective ‘big brother’ to many of the small businesses I interact with. Navigating through the bureaucracy can be intimidating for an up-and-coming small business trying to establish themselves with the federal government,“ said Matt Hibbert, small business specialist, Omaha District. “Many times these firms are just looking for someone to help them out and to tell them straight, what the process is and how to get work. It’s rewarding to know that these small businesses recognize that I am here for them.”
In fiscal year 2019, the District awarded $99.7 million, or nine percent of total contracts to this category and received a first place USACE award for their accomplishment. The District averages around $60 million in annual contracts awarded to this category.
Currently the District is advertising building two SDVOSB contracts in Colorado for an inspection point facility at Buckley, Air Force Base and a midfield facility at the U.S. Air Force Academy.
Several contracts awarded this fiscal year include: remedial investigation at Pine Ridge, South Dakota, a levee repair in Sheridan, Wyoming, and a new building construction project at Fort Carson, Colorado. Combined, these three contracts total more than $10 million.
“Exiting military service is not as easy as one might think, especially if a veteran is being discharged for medical reasons. Some of these service members were planning on spending the next five, 10, or 15 years with the military when all of the sudden they’re shown the exit - now what?,” Hibberts said.
“It’s fantastic there are programs that allow these veterans a competitive edge in providing supplies and services for the government. Without these programs in place those firms would have to be competing against everyone.”
Disabled service veteran owned small businesses can register their companies on the System for Award Management’s website at SAM.gov. This free federal portal allows government agencies and contractors to search specifically for this business category.
A presidential executive order was issued in 2004 in order to help provide greater opportunities in federal contracting for service disabled veteran owned small businesses.
For more information about the District’s small business programs and contract opportunities visit: https://www.nwo.usace.army.mil/Business-With-Us/Small-Business/
For more information about the service disabled veterans small business program visit: https://www.sba.gov/federal-contracting/contracting-assistance-programs/service-disabled-veteran-owned-small-businesses-program