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We Won! We Won! Supreme Court Upholds Vet Preference in Kingdomware

A client forwarded me the email with this decision, and here I am thirty seconds later, writing a blog because it is necessary that the entire veteran business community knows they’ve been vindicated! We have won the Kingdomware case!

Today, June 16, the United States Supreme Court, by a unanimous vote, ended a four-year long battle (that began at the GAO) holding that the VA is mandated to set aside contract opportunities for veteran-owned businesses on the Federal Supply Schedule when the “rule of two” is met – that the contracting officer has a reasonable expectation that two or more veteran-owned businesses will bid on the work, and offer a fair and reasonable price. Applying legal rules of statutory construction, the Supreme Court sided with veteran businesses in holding that key language (“shall”) was mandatory in requiring the VA to honor the preference.

This is a huge victory for veteran business owners who rely on the Federal Supply Schedule for a chunk of their federal (VA) work. The mandatory preference means that automatically, the VA will have to give the work to veteran-owned businesses rather than competing it in full and open competition (i.e., with the “big guys” thrown in the mix).

I am a member (and huge fan) of the National Veteran Small Business Coalition, which submitted an amicus curiae brief on the matter, and I’m sure that Kingdomware will be THE topic of discussion at our conference next week in Norfolk. (Registration is still open, for those who are interested in going to one of the best veteran business conferences out there).

What a development! Access the full decision here.

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3 Responses to “We Won! We Won! Supreme Court Upholds Vet Preference in Kingdomware”

  1. This made my day, even though we do not yet do work (energy consulting) with the VA! My company’s problem has been that solicitations of interest (primarily DOE and DOD) are very often set-asides for 8a (not “and” SDVOSB, WOSB, HubZone). Thus immigrants from Samoa to Nepal (among a host of others), based on their race, have Federally-awarded privileges to bid on Federal work not available to the other groups, even when the 8a goals have been consistently met and SDVOSB have not been met. DOE issued approximately 40 8a set-aside solicitations potentially of interest to Link in the past couple years; the last SDVOSB set-aside was in 2013. Supreme Court’s decision in Ricci v. DeStefano ruled white firefighters were victims of reverse discrimination after the firefighters passed a promotions test, only to have city officials invalidate the test results because “no black applicants passed”. Some Federal Agencies deny SDVOSB’s the opportunity to even “take the test” (e.g. a submit a proposal). Fisher v. Univ of Texas quoted “the Equal Protection Clause demands that racial classifications… be subjected to the `most rigid scrutiny.” We is debating this issue with Agencies and SDVOSBs, yet of course we’re fighting City Hall. What’s your opinion on the issue?

    • While I’m unfamiliar with the Fisher v. Univ. of Texas case, I do know that when it comes to making classifications/giving preference based on race, it is required that it is “narrowly tailored to serve a compelling interest.” Back when the 8(a) program was established, I’m sure there is legislative history that supported the reasoning for giving a preference to companies owned by those who fell within those social categories. And it’s not just race that’s considered – those folks have to meet a range of other requirements, including being “economically disadvantaged” under the SBA’s terms. (They do have to be U.S. citizens, however, so not just any immigrant can get the status). But I understand the frustration given that 8(a) seems to be the preferred category for set asides. I’m already wondering how the VA will try to circumvent the recent Kingdomware decision (preference to veterans on schedule contracts).

  2. Always nice to see some good news! 🙂

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