Veteran-Owned Set-Aside Program – Are You Eligible?

A veteran-owned small business may self-certify in the System for Award Management (SAM), and be eligible for veteran-owned set-aside contracts from many agencies.

However, to be awarded veteran-owned set-aide contracts from the Department of Veteran Affairs (VA), your company must be certified via the agency’s own certification process.

While proving your status as a veteran is fairly straightforward, showing direct and unconditional ownership and control of the company can be more complex.



  • A Veteran has served on active duty with the Army, Air Force, Navy, Marine Corps or Coast Guard, for any length of time, and has been discharged under conditions other than Dishonorable.
  • The company is in good standing to do business, as required by federal, state, county, and city regulations, with no unresolved or outstanding federal taxes or loans
  • The business is defined as small according to the relevant industry NAICS code


Direct and Unconditional Ownership

  • The company must be at least 51% directly and unconditionally owned by one or more Veterans
  • Ownership cannot be subject to conditions that would restrict the veteran from selling or transferring ownership in the company.



The veteran must

  • control both the day-to-day management of the company, and have long-term decision making authority.
  • have the managerial experience required to run the concern. (While specific technical expertise or qualifications are not required, the veteran must be able to show ultimate managerial and supervisory control of the company).
  • be the highest paid employee, or demonstrate that being paid a lower salary directly benefits the company
  • hold the highest officer position within the company ( usually president, CEO or other equivalent)
  • devote full-time to the business during ‘normal working hours’ – ie those of firms in the same or similar line of business. If you have paid employment in another company, you’ll need to demonstrate that this will not have a significant impact on your ability to manage and control the firm.
  • have control over all decision-making, without requiring the presence or assistance of a non-Veteran.
  • company operating agreements must not contain any restrictions that would enable non-Veterans to veto decisions made by the Veteran, such as quorum or voting requirements.


Recent transfer of ownership

If a non-veteran has transferred ownership or control of the company to a Veteran family member within the last two years, and the non-veteran remains involved in the firm (eg stockholder, officer, director, key employee) then the non-veteran is presumed to control the firm


To find out if you are eligible, try this self-assessment tool



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