Starting today, women business owners who seek increased opportunities to obtain federal contracts can begin participating in the U.S. Small Business Administration’s Women-Owned Small Business (WOSB) Federal Contract program.
The goals of the program include increasing women small-business owners’ opportunities to vie for federal contracts, and assisting federal agencies with hitting their targets of awarding 5 percent of contracts to WOSBs.
“Implementing the Women-Owned Small Business contracting rule has been a top priority for the Obama Administration and [the U.S. Small Business Administration],” administrator Karen Mills said in a prepared statement. “Women-owned businesses are one of the fastest growing sectors of the economy. As we continue to look to small businesses to grow, create jobs, and lead America into the future, women-owned businesses will play a key role. That’s why providing them with all the tools necessary to compete for and win federal contracts is so important. Federal contracts can provide women-owned small businesses with the oxygen they need to take their business to the next level.”
The U.S. Small Business Administration’s final rule regarding the program takes effect today. The final rule was published in the Federal Register in October 2010.
According to the text of the Federal Register, women-owned small businesses are underrepresented in 45 industries that are “eligible for federal contracting.” The industries are divided into codes defined by the North American Industry Classification System (NAICS). Industries in which WOSBs are underrepresented include residential building construction, computer systems design and related services, and electrical equipment manufacturing. Women-owned small businesses were labeled as “substantially underrepresented” in 38 additional industry codes.
The program is open to women-owned small businesses as well as economically disadvantaged women-owned small businesses (EDWOSBs).
“To qualify as a WOSB, a firm must be at least 51 percent owned and controlled by one or more women, and primarily managed by one or more women,” according to the press release. “The women must be U.S. citizens and the firm must be considered small according to [U.S. Small Business Administration] size standards. To be deemed ‘economically disadvantaged,’ a firm’s owners must meet specific financial requirements set forth in the program regulations.”
The first federal contracts should be awarded later this year.