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Congress Improves Access to Federal Contracts for Women


Amendment Lifts Caps on Contracts Awarded to Women-Owned Small Businesses
 
WASHINGTON –The National Women’s Business Council (NWBC) applauds the inclusion of language to lift the current caps on the Women-Owned Small Business (WOSB) Federal Contract Program in the National Defense Authorization Act, which was passed by the House yesterday and the Senate today.  NWBC recommended lifting these caps in its 2012 Annual Report, and we applaud the leadership of both Senate and House Small Business Committees: Chair Mary L. Landrieu, Ranking Member Olympia J. Snowe, Chairman Sam Graves, and Ranking Member Nydia Velázquez in their support of women-owned businesses throughout the 112th Congress.  Senator Olympia J. Snowe introduced the amendment language during the Senate’s deliberation of the bill, and NWBC commends the efforts of Senator Snowe and her staff in lifting this unnecessary restriction on the ability of women-owned small businesses to compete for federal contracts.
 
Under the current WOSB Federal Contract Program, 5 percent of all government contracts must be set aside for women. However, the program limits the size of the contracts that eligible business owners can receive: $6.5 million for awards in the manufacturing and construction industry, and $4 million for contracts in the remaining fields. Women business owners have consistently sought improved access to government contracting opportunities, and this action by Congress eases the restrictions initially placed on the program.  While the government has room to improve in achieving its 5 percent set-aside goal for women-owned firms, NWBC believes lifting these award caps is a decisive step in the right direction.
 
In its 2012 Annual Report submitted last week to the White House, Congress, and the U.S. Small Business Administration, the NWBC offered its list of recommendations to help increase the economic potential of women entrepreneurs, one of the fastest-growing segments in the country.  Lifting the caps on the women-owned small business contracting program was a primary recommendation, and NWBC is pleased to see such immediate action to resolve this issue.
 
“Raising the existing dollar thresholds will help more fully achieve the intent of the implementation of the WOSB program, which has the potential to be a tremendous resource for women-owned businesses,” said NWBC Executive Director Anie Borja.  “We applaud the bipartisan leadership of the House and Senate Small Business Committees for their crucial work in this area and thank Senator Snowe for introducing this language. Removing these award caps helps increase access to markets and will have a positive impact on the growth and economic impact of women-owned businesses.”
 
As a diverse Council of women business owners and members of women’s business organizations, NWBC provides independent, non-partisan counsel based in rigorous research on issues of women’s entrepreneurship and economic participation and is the government’s only independent voice for women business owners.  For more information on NWBC or to access its 2012 Annual Report, please visit www.nwbc.gov
 
For Release: Friday, December 21, 2012         
Contact: Eun Kim, (202) 205-6829, eun.kim@nwbc.gov