Today, the U.S. Small Business Administration announced their plans to expedite the implementation of the sole source authority provision in the Women Owned Small Business (WOSB) Federal Contracting Program and changed the deadline to study which industries WOSBs are underrepresented, taking action on two of the provisions for women-owned small businesses passed by Congress as part of the National Defense Authorization Act last year. The Council is thrilled to see the U.S. Small Business Administration move forward on sole source authority; this important provision will have far-reaching implications for women-business owners.
As posted in the Federal Register, “the U.S. Small Business Administration proposes to amend its regulations to implement section 825 of the National Defense Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2015 (2015 NDAA). Section 825 of the 2015 NDAA included language granting contracting officers the authority to award sole source contracts to Women-Owned Small Businesses (WOSBs) and Economically Disadvantaged Women-Owned Small Businesses (EDWOSBs). Section 825 of the 2015 NDAA also changed the deadline for SBA to conduct a study to determine the industries in which WOSBs are underrepresented to January 2, 2016. As a result, SBA is proposing to amend its definitions of underrepresentation and substantial underrepresentation.” For more information about the proposed rules, please visit: http://www.gpo.gov/fdsys/pkg/FR-2015-05-01/pdf/2015-10331.pdf.
Sole source authority is an important tool for both women-owned businesses and government agencies. Sole source authority will increase the access that women-owned businesses have to millions of dollars in contracts in the federal marketplace, and will enable more government agencies to reach the 5% procurement goal for women-owned businesses – a goal that has never been reached since it was established by legislation 20 years ago. The implementation of the provision of sole source authority in the Women Owned Small Business (WOSB) Federal Contracting Program has been a top priority for the Council for many years. This critical step forward has the potential to change the game for women entrepreneurs and women-owned businesses so they can thrive, grow our economy, and create new job opportunities for more Americans.
We look forward to the Administrator and the U.S. Small Business Administration acting expediently on the other program modification called for within the NDAA – Congress’ directive to the U.S. Small Business Administration to require certification for WOSBs by either, a federal agency, the SBA, state governments or third-party certifiers approved by SBA. We look forward to working with and supporting the U.S. Small Business Administration as they further refine the process for certification of women-owned businesses, such as integrating modern technology, increasing oversight and accountability, providing the necessary training and education for all parties involved, and raising awareness for the program broadly.
The Council will continue to be a pipeline for the collective voices of women business owners and additional parties of interest including contracting officers, certifiers, and others. As advisors to the Administrator and the U.S. Small Business Administration, we will provide input and perspective to guide expedient action on these important provisions and take additional measures to further enhance the WOSB Federal Contracting Program.
Today’s sole source authority announcement is an important milestone for women business owners across the country. We are grateful for the leadership of the Administrator on this issue and look forward to future updates from the U.S. Small Business Administration as they continue to streamline the WOSB program so that it is even more sustainable and successful.