A new rule by the U.S. Small Business Administration aimed at expanding federal contracting opportunities for women-owned small businesses (WOSBs) becomes effective on February 4, 2011. This long-awaited regulation provides procedures authorized by the Small Business Act to help ensure a level playing field for WOSBs to compete for Federal contracting opportunities, while helping achieve the existing statutory goal that 5 percent of Federal contracting dollars go to women-owned small businesses. Some key aspects of the rule are as follows:
– The rule identifies 83 indusities by 4 digit North American Industry Classification System (“NAICS”) codes in which women-owned small businesses are under-represented or substantially under-represented and are therefore eligible for Federal contract assistance under the WOSB program.
– With certain conditions, the rule authorizes a set-aside of Federal contracts for WOSBs or economically disadvantaged women-owned small business (EDWOSBs) where the anticipated contract price does not exceed $5 million for manufacturing contracts and $3 million for other contracts.
– The rule also removes a requirement from a previous version that each Federal agency must certify that it had engaged in discrimination against WOSBs in order for the program to apply to contracting to that agency.
– Each WOSB or EDWOSB may self-certify their status or be certified by a third-party.
According to Hayley Meadvin, SBA’s press secretary, “The [rule] is a critical step toward improving women-owned small businesses’ equal access and participation in federal contracting. The program will provide contracting officers, for the first time, a tool to set aside specified contracting opportunities.”
A copy of the full rule can be found here: http://edocket.access.gpo.gov/2010/pdf/2010-25179.pdf