Letters to the Editor: Industries for the Blind legal battle

Letters to the Editor: Industries for the Blind legal battle
June 08
04:00 2017

Rights of blind Americans put at risk with judge’s ruling

To the Editor:

This week, we were able to read the judge’s opinion stating that the Department of Veterans Affairs [VA] be required to apply the “Rule of Two” analysis to all listed procurements, meaning that if two veteran-owned companies are found to be qualified and willing, the VA would be required to compete any contract amongst those businesses rather than buying from an AbilityOne nonprofit like IFB Solutions.

The judge still has to issue her final order, expected at the end of June. That will outline the specific impact to contracts held by IFB Solutions. If that order is reasonable, her opinion should not impact our immediate business as the vast majority of our contracts aren’t at issue for at least a year and some for as long as four years.

Simply put, we don’t agree with her opinion.  We believe it is fundamentally wrong, and is a judgment that puts at risk the rights of Americans who are blind or have other disabilities to have equal opportunities to maintain gainful employment. IFB Solutions and the other AbilityOne nonprofit agencies count on federal agencies like the VA to abide by the statutes of the AbilityOne program to create employment opportunities and provide a crucial path to independence and self-sufficiency for individuals who are blind or severely disabled.

As an organization, IFB Solutions is going to do what it takes to make sure we sustain and grow jobs for people who are blind even if that means appealing this decision all the way to the Supreme Court.  In the meantime, our commitment is to continue delivering high-quality product on-time to our VA customers and our nation’s veterans.  We have a 16-year track record of success with the VA, and our employees, many of whom are veterans themselves, take tremendous pride in serving the most deserving.

Dan Kelly, Chief Operating Officer, IFB Solutions, Winston-Salem

Note: IFB Solutions, formerly Winston-Salem Industries for the Blind, has been fighting a court battle since August with PDS Consultants, a veteran-owned New Jersey company, that’s challenging AbilityOne contracts like the one IFB has with Veterans Affairs to provide eyeglasses to veterans.

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