Women Owned Small Businesses and the Government.

The Small Business Administration (SBA) is proposing to amend its regulations to implement a statutory requirement to certify Women-Owned Small Business Concerns (WOSB) and Economically Disadvantaged Women-Owned Small Business Concerns (EDWOSB) participating in the Women-Owned Small Business Contract Program.
Comments must be received on or before July 15, 2019.

The Women-Owned Small Business (WOSB) federal contract program is designed to provide greater access to federal contracting opportunities for WOSBs and economically-disadvantaged women-owned small businesses (EDWOSBs) by allowing contracting officers to set aside specific contracts for certified firms in an effort to achieve their statutory goal of five percent of federal contracting dollars being awarded to women-owned small businesses.

To qualify as Women-owned, a business must be:
1. Considered “small” as defined by the relevant NAICS code
2. Be at least 51% directly owned and controlled by one or more women who are U.S. Citizens.
3. To be deemed “Economically Disadvantaged”, owners must demonstrate economic disadvantage in accordance with the rule § 127.203 .

The WOSB Federal Contract Program set forth in section 8(m) of the Small Business Act, 15 U.S.C. 637(m), authorizes Federal contracting officers to restrict competition to eligible WOSBs or EDWOSBs for Federal contracts in certain industries.

Section 825 of the National Defense Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2015,Public Law 113-291, 128 Stat. 3292 (December 19, 2014) (2015 NDAA), amended the Small Business Act to grant contracting officers the authority to award sole source awards to WOSBs and EDWOSBs and shorten the time period for SBA to conduct a required study to determine the industries in which WOSBs are underrepresented.

In addition, section 825 of the 2015 NDAA amended the Small Business Act to create a requirement that a concern be certified as a WOSB or EDWOSB by a Federal agency, a State government, SBA, or a national certifying entity approved by SBA, in order to be awarded a set aside or sole source contract under the authority of section 8(m) of the Small Business Act.

SBA's regulations currently authorize the following WOSB/EDWOSB certifications:
(1) Certification by third party national certifying entities approved by SBA,
(2) certification by SBA as a Participant in the 8(a) BD program where the concern is owned and controlled by one or more women
(3) concerns certified as owned and controlled by women and certified as Disadvantaged Business Enterprises (DBEs) by states pursuant to the U.S. Department of Transportation's (DOT's) DBE program.13 CFR 127.300(d).

SBA will accept from the VA, VOSB or SDVOSB certification for women veterans, provided that the business concern is 51% owned and controlled by one or more women who are veterans or service-disabled veterans. VA applies SBA's standards of ownership and control under its Center for Verification and Evaluation (CVE) program. Because VA does not determine economic disadvantage, SBA will only accept VA certifications as evidence of ownership and control by women. Women veterans or service-disabled veterans seeking EDWOSB status would have to apply directly to SBA for this certification. In such a case, SBA would accept VA's determination that the firm is owned and controlled by women, but the firm would still have to demonstrate that the women are economically disadvantaged.

Similarly, SBA will accept the DOT/DBE certification for WOSB eligibility. Because the thresholds of economic disadvantage are different between SBA and DOT's DBE program, SBA cannot accept the economic disadvantage determination of a DBE for the EDWOSB certification. Interested parties seeking EDWOSB status will have to apply directly to SBA for this certification.

 

 

 

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