Kingdomware Technologies, Inc. v. United States
The question before the court is whether the Veterans Act of 2006 permits the Department of Veterans Affairs to use discretion when making a decision pertaining to the award of business contracts to firms, which veterans own (Kingdomware Technologies, Inc. v. United States). The date for the mentioning is the 22nd of February, 2016, and the court’s dilemma is to determine whether ex-soldiers small businesses have the exclusive right of acquiring tenders from the above-mentioned government agency. The question arose from the Kingdomware Technologies assertion that the Act through the language, history, and purpose makes the requirement compulsory (Annette and Saki). As the respondent, the United States, on the other hand, argued that the procedure, which the Act stipulates, does not apply when the Department of Veteran Affairs awards tenders in accordance with requirements of the Federal Supply Schedule created before the Act. The defendant further argues that the language of the legislation is ambiguous and that the agency reasonably interpreted the law hence the court should also reason in that manner.
Fact Pattern Representing the Question
In the first month of 2012, the Department of Veteran affairs sought to acquire an emergency notification system for its many outpatient clinics and medical centers. The agency utilized the Federal Supply Schedule to pick a supplier for the purpose mentioned above and, consequently, awarded the tender to a company, which veterans do not own. On the 4th of March, 2012, the Kingdomware Technologies, Inc, one of the firms belonging to veterans, complained to the Government Accountability Office over the issue. The argument was that before turning to the Federal Supply Schedule, the agency ought to have used the “Rule of Two” to give the contract to veterans before advertising it to the rest of firms (Annette and Saki). The company further filed a protest in the United States Court of Federal Claims but before the latter could have acted, the Government Accountability Office recommended the agency to revoke the contract and use procedures, which the Veterans Act of 2006 stipulates. The department, however, declined to comply with the directive, and the United States Court of Federal Claims has given a judgment in favor of the agency. The tribunal found the language of the Act ambiguous and indicated that an individual can read the law and reasonably interpret it, just like the Department of Veteran Affairs failed to see any compulsory requirement there.
Despite unfolding events, Kingdomware, Inc. never lost hope and launched an appeal to the Federal Circuit arguing that the statement “shall award” is clear and precisely means that there is no other option. The company further declared that the interpretation of the law as mandatory is justified since one enacted the Act due to the failure of the Veteran Affairs to comply with the standards of the Veteran Owned Small Businesses as stated in the previous Acts of 1999 and 2003 respectively (Annette and Saki). The court argued that the Veterans Authority had no obligation to preserve contracts for veterans. It, therefore, upheld the decision of the Court of Federal Claims. However, Kingdomwares next step was an appeal to the United States Supreme Court with a plea of examination of the earlier judgments.
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The Main Constitutional Arguments and their Pros and Cons
The plaintiff argues that the Veteran Act of 2006 compels the Department of Veterans Affairs to use the contracting steps mentioned in the law to award tenders before using the Federal Supply Schedule. This means that the first priority should be Veterans Owned Small Businesses. The firm further states that the purpose, history, and language of the law prove that the above requirement is not optional. The company vehemently insists that the words “shall award” justify the compulsory rule and this implies the requirement that when contracting, the agency should not assume or predict that two or more veteran businesses can offer reasonable and fair bids before opting to use the Federal Supply Schedule (Annette and Saki). The enterprise also argues that the Veterans Act of 2006 was composed because the Department of Veteran Affairs has failed to use the expected tendering procedures during the era of previous Acts of 1999 and 2003 jurisdiction, and, thus, the law came to seal the loopholes, which the previous legislations left. The attorney representing the firm also claims that the statement “for the use of satisfying the goals in subsection (a)” did not limit or contradict the practice of the “Rule of Two.”
The advantage of this argument is that it enables the compensation to the ex-soldiers for their diligent work of guarding the United States as well as the affirmative action of empowering injured or disabled people in the course of their duties. The argument, therefore, fights for the rights of the above-mentioned group of individuals as well as emphasizes that the Act gives the department a mandate as opposed to a discretionary procedure. The other merit of the argument is that it tries to indicate the loopholes of previous Acts of 1999 and 2003 and the way in which one can apply the Act of 2006 to address the problem (Annette and Saki). The American Legion in support of Kingdomware further reveals the advantages of latters arguments demonstrating that the Veteran Affairs use of discretion deprives millions of veterans their benefits despite having served their country for long. The organization also continues to quantify the veterans annual loss of contracts, which have the total value of $10 billion. The law facilitates the absorption of veterans into society after their retirement from combatant duties considering that they rarely find suitable employments. However, on the other hand, the argument is also detrimental since it inhibits the ability of the Agency to avail cost-effective and efficient services to the veterans of the United States whom it is meant to serve due to the disruption of normal bidding procedures that leads to the selection of the most feasible option. In their defense, the United States reveal the other fault of the Kingdomware’s argument, and this is that the application of the “Rule of Two” leads to more delays, red tapes, extra costs, and more risks. The rule also grounds the operations of the agency and, thus, requires the employment of new staff members. All these things inhibit the agencys ability to deliver to its beneficiaries.
The United States as the respondent argue that the conditions, which the Veterans Act of 2006 declares, do not have a base in case the agency offers tenders according to the Federal Supply Schedule that existed before the Act composing. The United States also defend the way the agency interprets the law arguing that the “Rule of Two” is limited in its nature (Annette and Saki). The United States, therefore, disregard the rule and argue that the Veterans Affairs can still award contracts to the Veteran Owned Small Businesses.
The advantage of the United States constitutional argument is that when one uses normal procedures of contracting, as stated in the Federal Supply Schedule, delays, red tapes, extra costs, and risks reduce making it easy for the agency to provide cost-effective and efficient services. This benefit shifts to the same veterans who seek for preferential treatment during bidding (Annette and Saki). However, the argument is disadvantageous since it deprives millions of veterans the benefits they deserve for years of service to the country, and these benefits amount to $10 billion per year.
The Ruling of the Court
The United States accepted the Kingdomwares request of examining documents and verdicts of lower courts. However, the court is yet to make a decision as to whether the Department of Veteran Affairs should use discretion during the issuance of contracts or whether it should strictly follow the Rule of Two. The case was fully argued on the 22nd of February, 2016 but the decision was not immediately made, and, thus, it is still pending. The ruling of the court will be a turning point as it will show both parties the way forward although one of them might be a winner or a loser.
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How the Case Should be Decided
The United States Supreme Court should deliver a ruling in favor of the Kingdomware, Inc. due to a variety of reasons. Firstly, the word shall is not ambiguous as it clearly and precisely directs that the agency should follow the expected rule, and if the meaning of the law is ambiguous, then the word shall would be replaced with may. Secondly, the Rule of Two is compulsory and it states that the agency should ensure that there is no expectation that a couple or more Veteran Owned Small Businesses will offer a reasonable bid (Annette and Saki). Thirdly, the previous Acts of 1999 and 2003 respectively were ineffective as they failed to regulate the conduct of the department during tender awards. Thus, one enacted the Veteran Act of 2006 to seal existing loopholes and, consequently, its aim was to adopt the previous laws. Lastly, such organizations as the American Legion and the Iraq and Afghanistan Veterans of America supported and argued in solidarity with Kingdomware, and the members of public also pleaded for increasing of contracts number for veterans. All these reasons justify the need for the Supreme Court to rule in favor of the Kingdomware, Inc. since they strengthen the latters argument through the emphasis of facts.