March 25, 2014

Assembly Passes Legislation to Expand Participation of Businesses Owned by Service-Disabled Veterans in State Procurement Contracts
Measure Also Creates New OGS Division to Promote Use of Service-Disabled Veteran Businesses

Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver, legislation sponsor Assemblymember Felix Ortiz and Veterans Committee Chair Michael Benedetto today announced passage of the Service-Disabled Veterans-Owned Business Act, which would set the goal of six-percent for the state's procurement contracts to be with businesses owned by service-disabled veterans (A.9135).

"The sacrifices that veterans have made, whether in combat or in the sheer duty of responsibility of the role that they have taken on to protect our country, are far beyond the scope of our comprehension," Speaker Silver said. "Once they return home, they begin an entirely different and very difficult battle, the battle to transition back into civilian life and provide continued financial stability for themselves and for their families. By ensuring more employment opportunities, this measure is just one of the many ways the Assembly can show its gratitude to the thousands of men and women that have bravely served our country."

"Because these men and women have served our country so selflessly and honorably, it makes sense that we do our part to provide increased economic opportunities for our veterans," Ortiz said. "In this way we are fulfilling our duty to support and honor those who have made exceptional sacrifices to keep our families safe. New York's veterans need to know that they are not alone once they return home. Giving them a better shot at success and financial stability is a moral obligation that both sides of the aisle and all levels of New York State government have embraced with open arms."

"This measure recognizes the countless contributions that our veterans have made protecting our country and preserving our freedom," Benedetto said. "Furthermore, it strengthens our state's workforce by recognizing the expansive skill level that all of these men and women bring to the table. The very least we can do to show our gratitude and offer our support is to ensure that, as veterans face the difficult transition back into civilian life, there are both employment opportunities and state contracts available for service-disabled veteran-owned businesses."

A key provision of the act creates, within the Office of General Services (OGS), the Division of Service-Disabled Veterans' Business Development, which would be led by a governor-appointed director, who would be required to develop and coordinate with the OGS commissioner a statewide plan that promotes the program among state agencies.

The legislation also calls for the director to compile a public directory which will be posted on the OGS website of certified service-disabled veteran-owned businesses and to collect and distribute information to assist service-disabled veteran-owned businesses.

To ensure the act's success, this measure sets the goal that six-percent of the state's procurement contracts be comprised of service-disabled veteran-owned businesses, establishes monitoring and annual reporting requirements and implements a results-driven review process to record and identify areas of the program that are working or in need of improvement.

Also under the Assembly budget, OGS would be required to train procurement personnel to be responsive to the needs of service-disabled veteran-owned businesses and provide advice and technical assistance to promote the greatest participation of veteran-owned businesses in the state procurement process.

A similar measure to this initiative was originally introduced and passed in the Assembly as a portion of its one-house budget.