The Office of Small & Disadvantaged Business Utilization
The U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) operates a department called the Office of Small and Disadvantaged Business Utilization (OSDBU). This department assists veterans and disadvantaged persons in achieving their entrepreneurial goals. Veterans who own small businesses and would like to be entrepreneurs or become self-employed are empowered by the OSDBU through education and support programs. The OSDBU has a mission to help veterans and enable them to access economic opportunities. The department achieves this goal by assisting veteran-owned small businesses that are procurement-ready to access business opportunities in federal economic systems. The OSDBU provides economic awareness, reduces risks and enhances access to resources for eligible veteran-owned small businesses. Candidates that are eligible for assistance from the OSDBU include veteran-owned small businesses, service-disabled veteran-owned small businesses, 8(a) business developments, women-owned small businesses and historically underutilized business zones.
About the OSDBU
The OSDBU is helpful to veteran business owners who want to start a business, access financing, develop their business or find opportunities for their already-running business. There are program areas of OSDBU that are used to assist entrepreneurial veterans achieve these economic goals. The first step is the verification process performed by the Vets First Verification Program, which is responsible for setting aside contracts for prioritized veterans that own small businesses. After setting aside these contracts for minority businesses, the federal agencies are allowed to offer the remainder of the contracts to competitive businesses for bidding. Another important activity that is performed by the OSDBU on behalf of veterans is the acquisition of support. This is achieved through market research, overseeing VA subcontracting, directing small business procedures or policies and working with other contracting staff to assist small businesses to access VA procurement opportunities.
Another tool used by the OSDBU is the Direct Access Program (DAP), which offers service-disabled veteran-owned small business, veteran-owned small businesses and civilian small businesses the opportunity to maximize networking, develop healthy partnerships and secure procurement events nationwide. The DAP also assists veteran-owned businesses to access informative resources that provide education on how to grow their businesses. Similarly, the Strategic Outreach and Communications (SOC) unit of the OSDBU offers education and awareness training to disadvantaged small businesses that would like to do business with the VA. The SOC assists these veteran enterprises with meeting business and procurement requirements set by business partners. Additionally, the Center for Veterans Enterprise (CVE) is a key unit of the VA that helps veterans to form new businesses or expand existing ones.
The VA uses partnerships with other American businesses and government programs to help entrepreneurial veterans transition to civilian employment. Besides improving the employability of such veterans, the stakeholders encourage self-employment and entrepreneurial spirit among budding veteran business owners. The OSDBU also facilitates the acquisition of small veteran-owned businesses or of those that are owned by disadvantaged persons. However, businesses that want to be acquired must be independently or individually owned and may not be dominant in their business sector. The businesses must also be qualified as a small businesses according to the Small Business Administration (SBA) standards and criteria.