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This is the fourth of our 5-part series to help small business owners evaluate whether federal certification is right for their business. You can read previous installments from the series by clicking on the links below.


Does attracting potentially millions of dollars’ worth of new business interest you? With government contracting work, you can open the doors to additional business that larger companies are not eligible to receive. For instance, government agencies and corporations that do business with the government are mandated by law or corporate policies to spend approximately 20 percent of their budget with small, disadvantaged companies.

Many federal, state, and city contracts that are set aside for certified small businesses go unclaimed because those businesses do not know how to be recognized as a small business. Certification is a review process designed by the certifying agencies to ensure that the business is actually owned, controlled, and operated by applicants that are an underserved group such as women, minorities, or veterans. Each program, however, comes with unique rules and compliance hurdles.

Be cautioned that the Small Business Administration (SBA), the agency responsible for approving four of the five programs we will discuss in this series, denies a large percentage of the applications it receives. For example, the SBA rejects approximately 70 percent of applications under the 8(a) Business Development Program. If your application is rejected, all of the programs require that you wait a mandated time period before reapplying, in many cases one full year. Moreover, once you do reapply, your application will likely receive closer scrutiny the second time around. To have the best chance of getting certified, your application must be fully and correctly completed, with all proper documentation accompanying the application.

Below is the fourth of five main federal certification programs we will discuss in this small business series.

Service Disabled Veteran Owned Business Program

If you are a service disabled veteran of the United States military, your small business may be eligible to participate in the Service Disabled Veteran Owned Small Business Program, or SDVO program. The purpose of the program is to provide procuring agencies with the authority to set acquisitions aside for exclusive competition among service disabled veteran owned small business concerns, as well as the authority to make sole source awards.

The government strives to award 3 percent of prime contract dollars – more than $15 billion annually. To reach the 3 percent goal, it sets aside money procurement exclusively for competition among SDVO small businesses.

Your business qualifies for the SDVO program if it is:
  1. A small business under the NAICS code assigned to a particular procurement;
  2. At least 51 percent unconditionally owned by one or more service disabled veterans; and
  3. Unconditionally controlled by one or more service disabled veterans.
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