VA Required to put Veterans First in Kingdomware Supreme Court Decision

June 16, 2016

By Jonathan T. Williams

In a big win for veteran-owned small businesses, the Supreme Court today ruled unanimously in favor of Kingdomware Technologies, Inc., in its case against the Department of Veterans Affairs (“VA”).

Kingdomware had brought suit challenging the VA’s failure to set aside an order under the Federal Supply Schedule (“FSS”) for veteran-owned small businesses. In the ensuing litigation, the VA took the position that it was not required to reserve FSS orders for SDVOSBs or VOSBs because the mandates of the “Veterans First” law did not apply to FSS. While the VA was successful with its arguments before two lower courts, the Supreme Court disagreed.

In a fairly straight-forward ruling, the Supreme Court found that the Veterans First law did not contain any exceptions for FSS orders and, therefore, the requirement to give preference to SDVOSBs and VOSBs extends to FSS orders. The Supreme Court also rejected the VA’s argument that an order under the FSS is not a contract; the Court found such orders are clearly contracts. And, in overturning the lower-court’s analysis, the Supreme Court held that the required use of veterans' preferences applies to all VA acquisitions, and regardless of whether the VA has met its annual veteran contracting goals.

The case will now be remanded to the Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit for further proceedings consistent with the Supreme Court’s ruling.

About the Author: Jon Williams is a partner with PilieroMazza and a member of the Government Contracts Group. He may be reached at jwilliams@pilieromazza.com.
 

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