More than $1 billion in government contracts meant for small businesses owned by disabled veterans have been reclassified over the last 10 years by the Department of Veterans Affairs so that the work — almost $150 million to date — could be given to non-veteran companies, a News21 analysis shows.
The reallocation is the consequence of increased enforcement measures and more stringent qualifications imposed by the VA after it discovered that it had awarded millions of dollars in contracts to companies that fraudulently claimed to be owned by veterans.
Veterans are now required to submit a battery of paperwork in which the smallest flaw could result in disqualification.
Tom Leney, executive director of Small and Veteran Business Programs at the VA, said he wasn’t sure how the more than 700 contracts were reclassified.
ABOUT THIS PROJECT
“Back Home: The Challenges Facing Post-9/11 Veterans Returning from the Wars in Iraq and Afghanistan” was produced by News21, a national investigative reporting project involving top college journalism students across the country and headquartered at the Walter Cronkite School of Journalism and Mass Communication at Arizona State University. News21 is funded by the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation and the Carnegie Corporation. The Ethics and Excellence in Journalism Foundation, the Hearst Foundations, the Donald W. Reynolds Foundation, Women & Philanthropy at ASU and the Peter Kiewit Foundation funded the work of individual fellows.
The project was made available to IowaWatch via the Investigative News Network, of which IowaWatch is a member.