Contracting program for women-owned businesses finally ready
Following a lengthy regulatory process, a women-owned small business contracting rule -- which would implement a program that had been signed into law by President Bill Clinton but never fully carried out -- has cleared its last hurdle and is scheduled to take effect on Feb. 4, 2011. The program is intended to give women-owned businesses a better shot at competing for federal contracts.
On Oct. 7, 2010, the Small Business Administration published in the Federal Register a final rule to establish the program. The eventual goal is to have 5 percent of federal contracting dollars go to women-owned small businesses.
Generally speaking, the rule enables money in federal contracts to be set aside when the anticipated contract price is lower than $5 million (for manufacturing contracts) or lower than $3 million (for other contracts). The rule defines a women-owned small business as one that is at least 51 percent directly owned and controlled by one or more women who are American citizens. The rule provides similar advantages to a subcategory called economically disadvantaged women‐owned small businesses, which include businesswomen below a certain net worth and annual income.
"The final rule is a critical step toward improving women-owned small businesses" equal access to and participation in federal contracting," said Hayley Meadvin, SBA's press secretary. "The program will provide contracting officers, for the first time, a tool to set aside specified contracting opportunities."
Barring an unexpected development, the new rule is all set and ready to go once its effective date arrives in February. So we rate it a Promise Kept.
Small Business Administration, "Women‐Owned Small Business (WOSB) Program Fact Sheet," October 2010
Small Business Administration, news release on the final rule for the Women-Owned Small Business Program, Oct. 7, 2010
E-mail interview with Hayley Meadvin, press secretary for the Small Business Administration, Nov. 19, 2010
Progress, but not quite there yet on women-owned business contracting
The last time we reviewed President Obama's campaign pledge to implement a women-owned business contracting program, we rated the promise In the Works. A spokeswoman from the U.S. Small Business Administration had told us at the time that the agency was in the midst of releasing the draft version of new regulations that would make it easier for women-owned businesses to compete for federal contracts.
We wanted to find out the latest news on the program. The SBA told us that they began asking for public comment on the proposed regulations in March.
The new regulations identify 83 industries in which women-owned businesses are under-represented or substantially under-represented in the federal contract marketplace. By helping women get more federal contracts, the agency agency hopes to achieve its goal of 5 percent of federal contracting dollars going to women-owned small businesses, according to a March 2, 2010 press release.
The public comment period ended on May 3, 2010. The SBA received close to 1,000 suggestions, which the agency is now in the process of reviewing, according to Hayley Matz, an SBA spokeswoman. The rule will be officially implemented following a final interagency review scheduled to take place later this year.
We're keeping a close eye on this one, but for now, the promise remains In the Works.
Small Business Administration, News Release: SBA Proposes Women-Owned Small Business Rule to Expand Access to Federal Contracting Opportunities, March 2, 2010
E-mail interview, Hayley Matz, Small Business Administration, June 22, 2010
Agency says new regulations for women-owned small business contracting program are under review
We asked the Small Business Administration about the status of the Women Owned Business Contracting Program, a program intended to encourage more women to compete for federal programs.
"The SBA has drafted regulations to implement the proposed women-owned small business contracting program," said spokeswoman Hayley Matz in an e-mail. "These regulations are long overdue and will be published for public comment after the interagency review process is complete. The SBA looks forward to implementing a comprehensive program that expands opportunities for women-owned businesses."
We'll be monitoring this promise to see its progress; for now, we rate it In the Works.
E-mail interview with Hayley Matz of the Small Business Administration