Due to recent changes in the National Defense Authorization Act of 2013 (NDAA) to the U.S. Small Business Administration’s Women-Owned Small Business Federal Contract Program; women-owned small businesses will have more means of entry to federal contracting opportunities.
Before the new law, the anticipated award price of the contract for women-owned small businesses (WOSB) and economically disadvantaged women-owned small businesses (EDWOSB) could not surpass $6.5 million for manufacturing contracts and $4 million for contracts from other industries. The recent changes to the NDAA eliminates the anticipated award price of the contract boundaries for women and economically disadvantaged and women-owned small businesses to grant them greater accessibility to federal contracting opportunities without restrictions to the size of the contract.
The Women’s Federal Contract Program permits contracting officers to set aside distinguished contracts for certified WOSBs and EDWOSBs and will aid federal agencies in achieving the existing statutory goal of five percent of federal contracting dollars being awarded to WOSBs. Additionally, the law also obligates the SBA to administer an alternate study to recognize and report industries that are inadequately represented by women-owned small businesses. Correspondingly, more eligible women-owned businesses may be able to participate in, compete for and win federal contracts via the SBA’s Women’s Federal Contract Program. Under the President’s Office of Management and Budget, the SBA is working with the Office of Federal Procurement Policy on the implementation including changes to the Federal Acquisition Regulations.
There are eighty-three four-digit North American Industry Classification Systems (NAICS) codes that the WOSB Program identifies WOSBs that are underrepresented or substantially underrepresented. Contracting officers may set aside contracts in these industries if the contract can be awarded at a price that is fair and reasonable, and the contracting officer has a reasonable expectation that two or more WOSBs or EDWOSBs will submit offers for the contract.
Small businesses that would like to be a participant in the WOSB program must meet the eligibility requirements and either self-certify or obtain third party certification. There are four approved third-party certifiers that perform eligibility exams:
- El Paso Hispanic Chamber of Commerce
- National Women Business Owners Corporation
- U.S. Women’s Chamber of Commerce
- Women’s Business Enterprise National Council
To qualify as a WOSB, a firm must be:
- at least fifty-one percent owned and controlled by one or more women, and primarily managed by one or more women.
- U.S. citizens and considered small according to SBA size standards.
To be deemed “economically disadvantaged,” a firm’s owners must meet specific financial requirements set forth in the program regulations.
“This new law is a prime example of how the Obama Administration is embracing a more inclusive view of entrepreneurship, helping small businesses and America succeed,” commented SBA Administrator Karen Mills. “Today, women own 30 percent of all small businesses up from just 5 percent 40 years ago. As one of the fastest growing sectors of small business owners in the country, opening the door for women to compete for more federal contracts is a win-win.”
For more information about the contracting opportunities for women-owned small businesses visit www.sba.gov/wosb.
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