Afternoon, Mr. Chairman. My name is Rick Weidman, and I currently serve as
Director of Government Relations for Vietnam Veterans of America (VVA). I also
have the honor of serving as Chairman of the Task Force on Veterans
Entrepreneurship (TFVE), which is a united effort by virtually all of the major
veterans groups as well as veteran entrepreneurs to seek proper opportunities
for veterans, particularly disabled veterans, to get assistance to succeed in
small business and self-employment. I thank you for the opportunity to present
brief remarks here this afternoon in regard to veterans’ entrepreneurship.
all of us in the veterans’ community remain grateful to the members and the
staff of this committee for your diligent efforts in drafting and
passage/enactment of Public Law 106-50, the “Veterans Entrepreneurship and Small
Business Act of 1999.” We salute your strong leadership and vision. We also
thank you for your diligence and leadership in holding two oversight hearings
last year that dealt with the implementation (or lack thereof) of P.L. 106-50.
Finally, both the Vietnam Veterans of America and the Task Force for Veterans
Entrepreneurship thank you for your leadership in holding this hearing today.
almost a two year struggle subsequent to the enactment of P.L. 106-50, we
finally got procurement regulations that were substantially correct published in
January of 2002. We believe that is only because the TFVE, many Members of
Congress, and others pressed hard to make this finally happen. Even then, one
of the service disabled veteran business owners that works with TFVE paid
significant legal fees to a major Washington law firm experienced in regulatory
matters to help make it happen. This process has just taken too long, Mr.
Chairman, and is now still not resulting in any significant procurement activity
on the part of agencies in regard to ensuring that at least 3%
of all contracts and all subcontracts are awarded to service disabled
veteran owned and operated businesses.
reported here last year, the Office of the Associate Administrator for Veterans
Business Development has been created at the Small Business Administration (SBA)
as required by the law. However, that appears to be the sum total of all
activity by any of the areas at the moment, except for the efforts of the
Honorable Thomas Sullivan, the Small Business Advocate. You will recall that
P.L. 106-50 required that veterans and disabled veterans be recognized and
provided required additional assistance in each and every SBA program run by or
through the SBA. Not only do I have to report (again) that this has not
happened, but there is virtually no reference to veterans or disabled veterans
at all on the SBA web page or in their brochures. They seem to continue to be
either willfully ignorant of the law, or incredibly contemptuous of the Congress
and the Congressional intent of P.L. 106-50.
still has been no one named to the Advisory Committee on Veterans Business
Development, after three years. There has been no invitation whatsoever by the
current Administrator for the TFVE or the major veterans organizations to meet
with him. While the Associate Administrator for Veterans Business Development is
supposed to answer directly to the Administrator, we can only assume that the
contact is infrequent and generally not substantive, as it became clear to many
veteran advocates at the social contacts during Small Business Week that this
Administrator is not knowledgeable about the needs of veterans, much less
actively engaged in the management of this program. We suspect the problem is
that he is being “protected” by some at SBA who are not committed to the success
of the veterans business development program. We would guess that he has no idea
that he should be issuing an Administrator’s Order in regard to veterans. Given
the fact that we are at war, now might be an appropriate time to actually
proceed with this action, particularly to send a message to those serving today
that their Nation will not abandon them if they are wounded or injured.
out that there has been little or no activity by anyone, for instance, in the
Women’s Program to reach out to disabled veteran women owned business owners or
would be entrepreneurs. In fact there has never been any effort by the SBA in
the programs devoted to women’s programs to reach women veterans, despite the
fact that this year the women’s program received well over $100 million and the
veterans’ business office received only $750,000 for all activities. Clearly
most staff at SBA have never read the relevant section of the law, nor has
anyone in authority told them that they have responsibilities toward veterans,
especially disabled veterans.
been some activity by the Small Business Development Centers that has greatly
aided veterans, particularly disabled veteran entrepreneurs. We have had good
cooperation and very active commitment from the Association of Small Business
Development Centers, and their Executive Director Don Wilson.
relationship with SCORE, as mandated in the law, has been more problematic, as
there has been no full time veterans coordinator appointed, which is required in
the law. In large measure this is because the S BA has never asked for the
money for such a position, but rather asked SCORE to absorb the cost of this
position in an already inadequate budget. A recent breakthrough in this regard
is that the Executive Director of SCORE has agreed to sit down with TFVE to work
out a memorandum of understanding that will actually result in something getting
done for veterans.
all of our contact with SBA, and hence our appraisal of their performance has to
be generally anecdotal, as the SBA has not delivered a single written report to
the Congress on the status of veterans and disabled veterans as required by the
law that took effect in August of 1999. There are rumors the report for FY 2000
has been written for more that a year, that the report for FY 2001 has been
written for almost six months, but are stuck somewhere in the “concurrence”
mechanisms of the bureaucracy at SBA.
of course, seemingly always frustrations in dealing with the SBA in regard to
veterans. I had always assumed that this was because there were not enough
outstanding managers at the SBA. However, VVA has discovered that out of the 36
Senior Executive Service personnel at the SBA, that none were rated as
unsatisfactory or minimally successful, six were superior in their performance,
and 29 were just outstanding. In fact, 25 of them got bonuses that totaled
$396,000, which is more than half of the total operating budget of the Office of
the Associate Administrator for Veterans Business Development (which seems to be
the sum, total of activity that assists veterans at the SBA, contrary to the
of Veterans Affairs Anthony Principi deserves credit for moving ahead to
establish the Center for Veterans Enterprise (CVE) at the Department of Veterans
Affairs. While there is a long way to go in regard to making CVE a truly
substantive and useful entity, it is a very visible commitment and a good start
toward something that can be truly extraordinary.
bright spot in all of this is that the National Veterans Business Development
Corporation is finally on track toward becoming the kind of force that it should
be in regard to assisting veterans. The Veterans Corporation (as they are often
referred to now) has a full complement of Board members, and at last has a Chief
Executive Officer who appears to have the imagination, integrity, strength, and
drive to make the Corporation into something like this Committee first
envisioned almost three years ago. By next Autumn, there will be a number of
tools available to assist veterans available all across America.
Unfortunately, due to difficulties in the Executive branch the Corporation is
over two and one half years behind where it should be at this juncture.
Therefore, we urge the Committee to take action now to authorize another two
years of Federal funding for the Corporation at the $4 million level. VVA
further urges that the Certification program be moved to another entity to house
it. VVA believes that anything that detracts from the central mission of the
Corporation should be moved, whether by MOU or by changing the statute.
Mr. Chairman, attached please find a copy of the prospective legislative and
policy goals of the TFVE for the remainder of the 107th Congress.
The attached has interim approval from our participants, that will be finalized
on June 11. In the interim, we ask you and your distinguished colleagues for
your support in examining what needs to be changed and “fine tuned” in P.L.
106-50, based on almost three years experience. With your permission, we will
begin work with staff at the earliest possible time.
for this opportunity to present our views, Mr. Chairman.
VETERANS OF AMERICA
May 21, 2002
The national organization Vietnam Veterans of America (VVA) is a
non-profit veterans membership organization registered as a 501(c)(19) with the
Internal Revenue Service. VVA is also appropriately registered with the
Secretary of the Senate and the Clerk of the House of Representatives in
compliance with the Lobbying Disclosure Act of 1995.
VVA is not currently in receipt of any federal grant or contract,
other than the routine allocation of office space and associated resources in VA
Regional Offices for outreach and direct services through its Veterans Benefits
Program (Service Representatives). This is also true of the previous two fiscal
For Further Information,
Vietnam Veterans of
Richard F. “Rick” Weidman serves
as Director of Government Relations on the National Staff of Vietnam Veterans of
America. As such, he is the primary spokesperson for VVA in Washington. He
served as a 1-A-O Army Medical Corpsman during the Vietnam war, including
service with Company C, 23rd Med, AMERICAL Division, located in I
Corps of Vietnam in 1969.
Mr. Weidman was part of the
staff of VVA from 1979 to 1987, serving variously as Membership Service
Director, Agency Liaison, and Director of Government Relations. He left VVA to
serve in the Administration of Governor Mario M. Cuomo (NY) as statewide
director of veterans employment & training (State Veterans Programs
Administrator) for the New York State Department of Labor.
He has served as Consultant on
Legislative Affairs to the National Coalition for Homeless Veterans (NCHV), and
served at various times on the VA Readadjustment Advisory Committee, the
Secretary of Labor’s Advisory Committee on Veterans Employment & Training, the
President’s Committee on Employment of Persons with Disabilities - Subcommittee
on Disabled Veterans, Advisory Committee on veterans’ entrepreneurship at the
Small Business Administration, and numerous other advocacy posts in veteran
Mr. Weidman was an instructor
and administrator at Johnson State College (Vermont) in the 1970s, where he was
also active in community and veterans affairs. He attended Colgate University
(B.A., (1967), and did graduate study at the University of Vermont.
He is married and has four children.
Task Force for Veterans’ Entrepreneurship
Legislative Goals for 2002/03
- Extend NVBDC funding to FY2006, at the rate of $4
million per year due to late start of corporation.
- Push for at least a $3 million budget for the SBA Office
of Small Business Development for FY 2003 (President’s request is only
- Encourage full funding for FY 2004.
- Find methods to aid and encourage success for
contracting officers who meet the 3% goal (greater than $100,000 to be used as
- A1% performance and integrity bonus for contractors.
- At a certain contract level, prime contractors
identify subcontractors by name and category (i.e. veteran, women, minority,
- Ensure that all Memorandums of Understanding (MOU) have
measurable objectives in accordance with the Government Performance and
Results Act (GPRA).
- Push for legislation to include service-disabled
veteran-owned businesses as disadvantaged business enterprises (DBEs) in
- Encourage methods to easily locate disabled
- Encourage Mentor Protégé programs.
- Create the Service-Disabled Veterans Competitive
Research Program that creates contract accessibility to service-disabled
veteran-owned small businesses.
- Key to the program would be its prioritization as the
highest ranking among procurement assistance programs.
- Encourage an open system of GSA schedules to give credit
to agencies, which purchase from GSA schedules (and other government
schedules) when they purchase from small businesses owned by veterans, women,
minorities, and HUBZones.
- Ensure compliance within two fiscal years.
- Target the Senate Commerce, Science, and Transportation
Committee, particularly Inouye (D-HI), McCain (R-AZ), Cleland (D-GA), and
Kerry (D-MA), for support in working with DOT for targeted assistance with
fair and equal competition.
- Encourage SBA to sponsor a Summit for Veterans
Entrepreneurship in FY 2003 to foster networking and mentoring/protégé
- Ensure involvement and participation in the White House
Conference on Small Business.
- Amend Chapter 31 to enable service disabled veterans
enrolled in a rehabilitation program to pursue self-employment goals, and
benefit from inventory, equipment, and other small business start-up
assistance from the VA without requiring the veteran to establish that he or
she is unable to be employed in a regular job as current policy prescribes.
- Authorize the National Veterans Business Development
Corporation to have access to all federal small business and veteran
databases, and change all relevant statutes for conforming amendments.
Task Force for Veterans’ Entrepreneurship
Background: On August 17, 1999, The “Veterans’
Entrepreneurship and Small Business Development Act of 1999,” H.R. 1568
was signed into law, as P.L. 106-50. This piece of legislation is one of the
most significant pieces of veterans’ legislation to be passed in years, and is
going to greatly expand and improve SBA’s small business assistance services to
veterans and disabled veterans. The enactment of P.L. 106-50 was the
culmination of months of closely coordinated and integrated efforts by many
various veterans’ service organizations and other veterans grassroots groups.
This group, presented a cohesive, united front to Congress and the Small
Business Administration, and effectively advocated for the passage of P.L.
106-50. Without a doubt, the benefits of advocating as one unified front, in
contrast to a disparate and uncoordinated effort by individual groups, paid off.
Purpose: P.L. 106-50 is now officially
enacted. However, much work remains to be done. Veterans’ groups and other
interested groups must now work to ensure that P.L. 106-50 is properly
implemented and enforced. Certain programs under 106-50 have yet to be
implemented or to receive funding. The SBA Office of Veterans Affairs is
currently developing initiatives and programs to be carried out under the
auspices of 106-50, and the SBA Veterans Advisory Committee has also yet
to be named. In order for 106-50 to be implemented in the manner that it was
intended, it is imperative that veterans’ groups and our friends take on a
leadership role in the implementation process.
Mission: The Task Force for Veterans
Entrepreneurship aims to once again present a strong unified veterans’
voice in this critical process. All veterans and military groups, and veterans’
advocates who wish to participate on this Task Force are encouraged to do so.
The Task Force will meet on a fairly regular schedule to coordinate P.L. 106-50
activities; members will keep in close contact with one another and
correspondence will be sent out on Task Force letterhead, listing all member
groups. Actions of the Task Force will be taken by consensus, and hopefully
augmented by efforts of the various participants.
If you have any questions or concerns regarding the
Task Force for Veterans Entrepreneurship please call Rick Weidman at
301-585-4000 ext. 127, Bill Truitt at 202-543-1942, or Vernessa Franklin
E-mail us at firstname.lastname@example.org