In a U.S. Supreme Court decision handed down today, the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) was directed to change its contracting practices.
The Court’s June 16, 2016 ruling in Kingdomware Technologies, Inc. v. United States, No. 14-916 means that the VA can no longer chose to ignore a 2006 law that requires the VA to restrict contract competitions to veteran-owned small businesses (VOSBs) as long as there are at least two qualified VOSBs available to perform the work. This provision of the Veterans Benefits, Health Care, and Information Technology Act of 2006 (“the Act”) is known as the “Rule of Two.”
The VA long argued that it had the discretion to not follow the “Rule of Two” when it placed orders against GSA Schedule contracts. But the Court found the following provision of the Act to be unambiguous:
… a contracting officer of the Department shall award contracts on the basis of competition restricted to small business concerns owned and controlled by veterans if the contracting officer has a reasonable expectation that two or more small business concerns owned and controlled by veterans will submit offers and that the award can be made at a fair and reasonable price that offers best value to the United States.
It is not yet known how quickly the VA will change is practices with respect to GSA Schedule orders. But the Court has made it clear that the Rule of Two is mandatory, not discretionary — and there’s no exception for GSA Schedule orders.
Read the Supreme Court decision here: http://www.supremecourt.gov/opinions/15pdf/14-916_6j37.pdf