Warner pushes online service for small minority-owned businesses

Published 12:00 am Thursday, May 19, 2005

Staff Report

Gov. Mark R. Warner on Wednesday launched an online application for businesses to become certified as a small, woman, or minority-owned business (SWAM).

The automated process is designed to make certification and recertification more accessible and more convenient for SWAMs seeking to work with the Virginia Department of Minority Business Enterprise (VDMBE) to compete for the $5 billion the Commonwealth spends each year on goods and services.

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The application, which went online Monday is available at http://www.dmbe.virginia.gov/services.html.

&uot;Since the beginning of our administration, we have worked to identify and involve more small, woman-, and minority-owned businesses in our competitive bidding process,&uot; said


&uot;This new online application can help us more quickly reach more businesses, diversify our vendor pool, and strengthen our local economies.

Now, new or returning vendors can begin the certification process online, have their SWAM status verified, and move into using our eVA electronic procurement system to make themselves known to state and local procurement officers.&uot;

The online SWAM Certification Service handles initial certifications and allows businesses to simply view and edit previously submitted information as part of the recertification process.

The first screen asks four key questions to ascertain the certification path appropriate for the user, and provides links to additional relevant screens.

The application provides additional guidance by determining the subsequent information needed depending upon the user’s choices. Applicants may be required to provide appropriate supporting documentation before VDMBE will complete the certification process.

&uot;This online application is accomplished in furtherance of Governor Warner’s goal to make the application process as user-friendly and timely as possible,&uot; said Edward L. Hamm, Jr., director of the Virginia Department of Minority Business Enterprise.

&uot;We have worked hard to clean-up the inaccurate list of SWAM vendors this administration inherited.

We look forward to further reducing the current SWAM 30 day completed certification processing goal.&uot;

VDMBE partnered with the Virginia Information Providers Network of VITA, or VIPNet, to develop the service. Capabilities include an administrative area for VDMBE staff to review and approve submitted certifications.

&uot;In addition to facilitating the process for businesses to apply for SWAM certifications, the service creates efficiencies for VDMBE staff by eliminating the need to manually re-key certification information into a separate back-end system,&uot; said Scott Somerhalder, VIPNet’s General Manager.