UPDATE: The Women-Owned Small Business Program Takes Effect February 4!

2.4.2011 - Posted in E&B Alerts - Government Contracts

Today, the Small Business Administration's (SBA) rule regarding the Women-Owned Small Business program (described in the E&B Alert dated October 19, 2010) becomes effective, expanding the opportunity for women-owned small businesses (WOSBs) to obtain Federal Government contracts. This program allows contracting officers to set aside Federal contracts (not exceeding $5 million for manufacturing contracts or $3 million for all other contracts) for WOSBs and Economically Disadvantaged WOSBs (EDWOSBs). The Government has a stated goal of awarding five percent of Federal contract dollars to WOSBs and EDWOSBs, and the new SBA rule identifies 83 industries-according to NAICS codes-where WOSBs are underrepresented or substantially underrepresented. Industries where WOSBs are substantially underrepresented may set aside procurements for WOSBs, while those industries where WOSBs are underrepresented may set aside procurements for EDWOSBs.

To qualify as a WOSB, a business must: (1) be "small" for its industry as defined in the SBA standard; (2) be at least 51 percent directly and unconditionally owned and controlled by one or more women; and (3) have one or more women as the primary manager(s) of the business.

For a business to be eligible as an EDWSOB, it must: (1) meet the conditions for qualification as a WOSB; and (2) be owned and controlled by one or more women who are economically disadvantaged. A woman will be presumed to be economically disadvantaged if her personal net worth is less than $750,000, her adjusted gross yearly income over the three preceding years is less than $350,000 and the fair market value of her assets does not exceed $6 million.

A business that meets one of the above definitions can participate in this program by self-certifying or obtaining third party certification as to its status. Self-certification requires a WOSB or EDWOSB to complete the following steps:

  1. Register in the Central Contractor Registration (CCR);

  1. Upload documents supporting its status to the SBA website; and

  1. Change its status in the Online Representations and Certifications Application (ORCA) to reflect its eligibility as a WOSB or EDWOSB.

The WOSB program is expected to be fully functional by April 1, 2011, with the first contracts being awarded during the fourth quarter of fiscal year 2011, when the federal government typically awards the largest percent of contracts. Given this timing, WOSBs and EDWOSBs are encouraged to carefully review the program and eligibility requirements and update their status in the CCR and ORCA to reflect their eligibility. Additionally, WOSBs that qualify for the program must ensure they have uploaded all of the required documents to the SBA Repository.

The SBA Compliance Guide for the WOSB Program is available here. For help in determining your eligibility in the WOSB Federal Contract program or assistance with the self-certification procedure, contact Mark Blando at [email protected] or (612) 236-0160.