GAO: VA Should Address Contracting Officers’ Training Needs in Veterans First Program Implementation

The Government Accountability Office has called on the Department of Veterans Affairs to provide contracting officers with more training in implementing a program that aims to support veteran-owned small businesses through contract opportunities.

GAO said in a report published Wednesday that it interviewed 30 contracting officers and found that 12 of them encountered difficulty in making "fair and reasonable price" assessments of contract awards under the Veterans First program.

That is one of the two criteria, dubbed the VA Rule of Two, set by the Supreme Court in its 2016 decision.

The report showed that contracts set aside for veteran-owned small businesses rose from 20.8 percent in fiscal 2016 to 25.8 percent in fiscal 2017 following the Supreme Court decision.

GAO recommended that VA improve the way it oversees the compliance of such businesses with subcontracting limitations, such as ensuring the inclusion of the required clauses in contracts.

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