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.