Two House committees looking into VA deals with MicroTech

Washington Post

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Washington, DC, November 18, 2013 | By Frank O'Harrow Jr. | comments

Two committees in the House have begun an examination of hundreds of millions of dollars in technology contracts awarded by the Department of Veterans Affairs to a Tysons Corner firm owned by a service-disabled veteran.

Rep. Sam Graves (R-Mo.), chairman of the House Small Business Committee, and Rep. Jeff Miller (R-Fla.), chairman of the House Veterans’ Affairs Committee, said in a statement released Thursday they will review whether the agency complied with small-business regulations in the awards to MicroTechnologies.

The congressmen also will explore whether VA officials are properly scrutinizing the size of firms that are “verified” by the agency as small businesses owned by service-disabled veterans, the statement said.

Rep. Richard L. Hanna (R-N.Y.), chairman of the small business subcommittee on contracting and workforce, and Rep. Mike Coffman (R-Colo.) said in the statement they also would be looking into the deals.

“We are preparing document requests for the relevant agencies and their response will inform our future actions,” the statement said.

The lawmakers’ action follows stories in The Washington Post about the rapid rise of MicroTech to the top tier of the nation’s small federal contractors.

The company said in a statement that the VA contracts with MicroTech were properly awarded in open competition.

“The contract highlighted in the Post article was in fact awarded to MicroTech in a full and open competition, not as a set-aside,” MicroTech attorney Kristopher Parker said. “We have consistently advocated the federal contracting processes can be improved and support a Congressional examination. We have not been contacted by any Congressional members or staff, but we would welcome the opportunity to play a role in this constructive discussion.”

In an “open letter” posted on the company’s Web site, MicroTech owner Anthony R. Jimenez said, “I and MicroTech performed our duties properly and within all rules and regulations of the respective government programs.”

“MicroTech has succeeded in a competitive industry only because we consistently provide the highest quality of service to our customers and will continue to do so despite any allegations that may come our way,” the letter said.

Separately, the Office of Inspector General at the General Services Administration is examining the VA deals, an office spokeswoman told The Post. The GSA referred the matter to the inspector general after receiving inquiries from The Post in recent months.

The Post reported that according to federal records, MicroTech has received $1.4 billion in contract awards from federal agencies since 2004, a third of it through programs reserved for small firms owned by minorities or service-disabled veterans. MicroTech said the firm has actually received about $445 million, with the rest going to its contracting partners.

MicroTech certified through the fall of 2011 that it was small for the purposes of contracts reserved for firms earning an average of $25 million or less over the previous three years.
The Post reported that VA had awarded the firm hundreds of millions of dollars in contracts — taking credit for the deals as going to a small firm owned by a service-disabled veteran — even though more than 90 percent of the money went to a large firm working with MicroTech, according to documents and interviews.

Agency officials and MicroTech said the arrangements were allowed under rules at the General Service Administration, which handles procurement for agencies across the government.
In statements, MicroTech said the firm has followed all federal contracting rules and always accurately represented its size on small-business contracts.
Lawmakers expressed unease about the VA contracts.

“The VA does a lot of good things, but determining if a firm is a small business is not one of them,” Graves said.

“VA should be leading the way when it comes to compliance with federal Service-Disabled Veteran-Owned Small Business” contracting rules, Miller said. “Instead, the department’s actions outlined in [The Post’s] report serve as a shining example of what not to do.”

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