SBA to begin contracting program for women

News from the National Association of Government Contractors

SBA officials announced on Oct. 4 that the agency is setting up procedures to help woman-owned small businesses gain more access to the federal contracting marketplace. A final rule is forthcoming in the Federal Register.

Working with the Federal Acquisition Regulatory Council, SBA officials will begin a four-month implementation of the Women-Owned Small Business program. They will be building infrastructure to support the certification process and allowing for ongoing oversight.

Officials say that by early 2011 contracts will begin to become available to small businesses owned by women under the program. Such an initiative has been promised for years to bolster access to women-owned businesses who have been an historically under-represented segment of the government contracting community.

The proposed rule states that the purpose “is to enable contracting officers to identify and establish a sheltered market for competition.”

Under an amended statute, contracting officers can set aside a portion of contracts for women business owners without first giving preference to other types of business.

In SBA’s rule, officials identified over 80 industries in which women would be eligible for federal contract assistance under the new program.

To formulate this list SBA officials used the analysis in a 2007 study commissioned by SBA from the Kauffman-Rand Foundation to identify industries where women are underrepresented.