On May 24, 2017, NIB made the difficult yet necessary decision to file a lawsuit against the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs (VA). Two of our associated nonprofit agencies – Bosma Enterprises in Indianapolis, Indiana, and IFB Solutions in Winston-Salem, North Carolina – are plaintiffs in the lawsuit, along with NIB.
We applaud the VA’s efforts to secure contracting opportunities for our nation’s veterans. For nearly 80 years, NIB and its associated agencies have supported our nation’s veterans by providing products and services to the VA and other federal agencies. During this time, our partnership with the VA has helped create meaningful employment for people who are blind at NIB associated agencies across the country.
We’ve proven there is ample opportunity for veteran-owned small businesses and nonprofit agencies employing people who are blind to partner together on business opportunities that benefit our nation’s veterans. However, VA’s recent change to its Rule of Two regulation — which gives preference to veteran-owned small businesses if at least two can perform the work — will be damaging to the employment of people who are blind, including veterans, working at NIB associated agencies.
We’ve worked hard to explore various avenues to resolve these issues with all parties involved. Having exhausted these options, we were left with no other choice but to seek clarification through the legal system on how the statutory requirement to purchase from nonprofit agencies employing people who are blind should coexist with VA’s veteran-owned small businesses procurement policies.
While this lawsuit was a difficult decision, we look forward to the court’s guidance.