California’s DVBE Program came into being during the time period when “affirmative action” programs were being expanded by state government. As a result, the DVBE Program is frequently and incorrectly associated with government programs intended to rectify discrimination.
Affirmative action programs are intended to provide equal opportunity to all citizens, while the DVBE Program provides proper recognition to veterans who incurred permanent disabilities while in the service of their country. More importantly, the DVBE Program’s design helps disabled veterans rehabilitate positively into the economic mainstream in order to build successful businesses and to contribute to California and our country as entrepreneurs.
In 1989, with the leadership of Senator Ralph Dills and Mr. John Lopez, an active member for the Association of Disabled Veterans (ASDV) and the Veterans of Foreign Wars (VFW), the legislature determined that disabled veterans deserved special consideration on state contracts because they suffered permanent disabilities as a result of their service to our nation.
Annually, the State of California contracts billions of dollars for goods and services which helps California’s economy stay healthy, strong, and prosperous, and promotes business opportunities and participation for all of its citizenry. Small businesses, including veterans, disabled veterans, and DVBEs, are instrumental to the good health of the State’s economy and a major source of new jobs.
The State of California established the Disabled Veteran Business Enterprise (DVBE) Program under Public Contract Code §10115 and Military and Veterans Code §999 to primarily help DVBEs compete more effectively for a portion of those dollars, and to promote self-reliance for California’s disabled veterans by establishing a goal of awarding 3% of all state contracts to certified DVBEs. This law offers veterans the opportunity to gain experience in business while sharing their expertise with the citizens of California.
The Disabled Veteran Business Alliance was formed in 1994 following the establishment of the DVBE Program by the California legislature in 1989. Its mission was—and remains—to assist California state agencies to meet the DVBE procurement goal, which is currently 3% annually. For the first twenty years, all California certified DVBEs (1,700+) have been members of the Alliance, supported at no cost to the disabled veteran business owners, who “already gave at the office” by their sacrifice in uniform. As success of the program has mounted, a paid member category has been established to underwrite broader support of DVBE business initiatives nationwide.
Every day, more of our brave men and women of the armed forces are returning home from conflicts overseas with injuries that may result in permanent disabilities. The Alliance’s aim is to support member businesses and disabled veterans as they endeavor to establish and maintain a high quality of life via business ownership after service to their country.
The Alliance obtains most of its financial support from generous sponsorships by corporate America. These corporations also participate in the Alliance CAB. Created in 2002, the CAB began by helping California’s Investor Owned Utilities (“IOU”) learn about the DVBE Program, work together and solve problems, and provide contracting opportunities between IOU and DVBEs.
The DVBE Incentive. The Alliance sponsored and championed the DVBE Incentive. On October 3, 2005 Governor Schwarzenegger signed Senate Bill 115 (Florez). SB 115 mandates an incentive to help State agencies meet their annual DVBE participation goals. The California Department of General Services’ policy implements this program by rewarding prime bidders for increased participation; the more DVBE participation, the greater the incentive. The DVBE Incentive provides a significant advantage to bidders proposing participation of California certified DVBEs. The DVBE Incentive applies to all competitive solicitations whenever the solicitation includes a DVBE Program Requirement. The DVBE Incentive can be used in combination with the small business preference and other preference adjustments to create a very competitive advantage.
Elimination of the Good Faith Effort (GFE). The Alliance co- sponsored and championed (in conjunction with the Department of General Services) the elimination of the Good Faith Effort. On July 28, 2009, Governor Schwarzenegger signed Assembly Bill 4X21 (AB 21). This bill amended the Public Contract Code to eliminate the Good Faith Effort from DVBE statutes and as a means for bidders to satisfy the DVBE contract participation requirements. Bidders must now meet the goal through actual DVBE participation and can no longer rely on documentation of GFE as a compliance option.
California High-Speed Rail DVBE Participation Commitment. During 2012, the CA DVB Alliance championed the inclusion of DVBEs for California High Speed Rail contracts. DVBE participation was not originally included. The CA DVB Alliance successfully argued that DVBEs should be included in this high- speed rail system that is estimated to cost $117.5 billion over the twenty (20) year projected construction completion timetable. This presents an estimated $3.5 billion participation opportunity for certified California DVBE firms.
Increase in the Small Business/DVBE Option Limits. In 2009 the Alliance worked closely with then-Senator Curren Price and a myriad of small business organizations to secure passage of AB 31, which raised the Small Business/DVBE Option limit from $100,000 to $250,000, thus opening an entirely new range of informal bidding opportunities to both state agencies and DVBEs.
Consistent Meeting the 3% California Goal.Since FY 2008-9, the State of California has hit and exceeded the statutory 3% procurement goal, hitting as high as 4.7% in FY 2011-12.
Keeping the Promise. The Alliance annually a statewide business expo that is acknowledged as one of the best outreach, networking, and business match-making events in the country. “Keeping the Promise” focuses on increasing commerce for service-disabled veteran entrepreneurs. The expo features seminars, presentations, networking, and one-on-one meetings between DVBEs and private and public sector organizations committed to meeting established DVBE contracting and subcontracting goals. The event is highlighted by a gala dinner at which we celebrate the achievements of disabled veteran entrepreneurs.
Salute to Veterans Day Breakfast. The Alliance annually hosts a breakfast during the week of Veteran’s Day to honor those who are serving, those who have served, and those who are about to begin their service to our country. The Salute to Veteran’s Day Breakfast includes many celebrity guests from the sports and entertainment industry who have served and/or support America’s military personnel and its veterans.
SARA Awards. The State Agency Recognition Awards (SARA) ceremony honors state departments for outstanding achievements in Small Business (SB) and Disabled Veteran Business Enterprise (DVBE) advocacy and for contracting success. The Alliance is a very active participant in this annual event and a co-sponsor of these important recognition awards. SARA continues to grow each year, testifying to the success of the program in increasing state contracts with our certified SB and DVBE members (Alliance members are usually both).
Chapters. The Alliance has nine regional chapters that meet monthly to promote commerce, help educate members about matters important to their respective businesses, and provide networking and business match-making opportunities. Disabled veteran business owners in other states have applied to establish chapters in their regions, and the Alliance welcomes the opportunity to support chapter growth in other parts of the country.
Corporate Advisory Board (CAB). The Alliance has over fifty (and growing) corporate members including Fortune 100 companies, large healthcare companies, major banks, large investor-owned utilities, large construction companies, national insurance companies, and large telecom corporations that provide advice on matters related to member commerce. Some of our large certified DVBE companies also serve on the CAB. The Alliance is currently meeting with Corporate Advisory Board members to increase Tier 2 and other tier opportunities for our members, which is a major focus for the next several years.