The Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) got slapped down by the U.S. Supreme Court (SCOTUS). The amazing thing is this case should never had been filed in the first place.
On November 27, 2012, Kingdomware Technologies, Inc. (KTI), a service-disabled veteran-owned small business (SDVOSB) headquartered in Maryland, filed a lawsuit against the VA when it refused to allow it to bid for existing contracts for a VA medical center. The VA did not consider KTI as an eligible SDVOSB through the use of its own definition, therefore violating federal law.
From Military Times:
Federal law requires the agency to use a bidding process if two or more disabled veteran-owned companies can offer service at a fair and reasonable price. But the VA argued the “rule of two” does not apply when it buys goods and services from vendors that already have contracts with the agency under a system called the Federal Supply Schedule.
A federal appeals court had said the VA did not have to follow the rule of two if it otherwise met the goal of awarding between 7 percent and 12 percent of all contracts to companies owned by disabled veterans. But Thomas said meeting annual benchmarks does not allow the VA to ignore a mandatory contracting rule.
The rare 8-0 unanimous decision is summarized by SCOTUS Blog:
(1) The Court has jurisdiction to reach the merits of this case because it is reasonable to expect that the federal government will refuse to apply the Rule of Two — which provides that a contracting officer award contracts by restricting competition for contracts to veteran-owned small businesses if the officer reasonably expects that at least two such businesses will submit offers and that the award can be made at a fair and reasonable price that offers best value to the United States — in a future bid by Kingdomware Technologies, Inc.;
(2) the contracting procedures under Section 8127(d) of the Veterans BenefitsHealth Care, and Information Technology Act are mandatory and apply to all contracting determinations by the Department of Veterans Affairs.
This is another case where the VA is not acting on behalf of veterans. If it was, KTI would have been allowed in the bidding process with other veteran-owned businesses and the lawsuit would never have been filed three and one-half years ago.
Note: to date, VA Secretary Robert McDonald has made no public comment on the ruling. As Bill O’Reilly is wont to say: perhaps he’s hiding under his desk.