Program Changes Help Women Compete for Federal Contracts
Anticipated changes to the Women-Owned Small Business Federal Contract Program administered by the U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA) are expected to help female entrepreneurs win a greater share of the $400 billion in federal contracts awarded each year.
The changes, which have come about as a result of the National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) of 2013, will also help the federal government meet its statutory five percent women’s contracting goal.
Signed into law by President Barack Obama at the end of 2012, the NDAA outlines the specific projects and programs the Department of Defense is authorized to pursue this year; funding authorization is to be included in an appropriations bill that has not yet been finalized.
Prior to the NDAA, the anticipated award price of a contract for women-owned small businesses (WOSB) and economically disadvantaged women-owned small businesses (EDWOSB) could not exceed $6.5 million for manufacturing contracts and $4 million for all other contracts, the SBA notes.
“The new law removes these thresholds for WOSBs and EDWOSBs, allowing them greater access to federal contracting opportunities without limitations or restrictions to the value of a contract,” it explains.
The NDAA also requires the SBA to study, identify and report on industries that are underrepresented by women-owned small businesses. It is expected that more eligible women-owned businesses may be able to participate in SBA’s Women’s Federal Contract Program to compete for and win federal contracts.
Eligibility requirements for participation in the WOSB program are as follows:
- A firm must be at least 51 percent owned and controlled by one or more women, and primarily managed by one or more women.
- The women must be U.S. citizens.
- The firm must be “small” in its primary industry in accordance with SBA’s size standards for that industry.
To be eligible under the EDWOSB program, the business owner(s) must demonstrate economic disadvantage as determined by specific financial requirements set forth in SBA’s program regulations.
In addition to meeting the eligibility requirements outlined above, small businesses that want to participate in the WOSB program must self-certify or obtain third party certification from one of four approved organizations that perform eligibility exams. Details are available on the SBA’s Women-Owned Small Business Program Certification page.
The SBA notes that its WOSB program identifies 83 four-digit North American Industry Classification Systems (NAICS) codes where women-owned small businesses are underrepresented or substantially underrepresented. “Contracting officers may set aside contracts in these industries if the contract can be awarded at a fair and reasonable price and the contracting officer has a reasonable expectation that two or more WOSBs or EDWOSBs will submit offers for the contract,” it notes.
So, if you’re a woman who owns a small business and you’re interested in obtaining government contracts, it could pay to check out the SBA’s WOSB and EDWOSB programs. And, if you’re interested in accepting credit cards, talk to a Merchant Express® representative today about the many processing options available to you.