SBA to launch small business program for women

The agency is working to create procedures for contracting officers to identify and establish a sheltered market for competition

Women will have their place in the Small Business Administration’s contracting programs starting in 2011.

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 expected to be published in tomorrow’s 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 the technology and the program’s infrastructure to support the certification process and ongoing oversight.

Officials expect contracting officers will be able to start making contracts available to small businesses owned by women under the program in early 2011, SBA said. The aim is to give more opportunities to women, because, officials say, women are under-represented in government contracting.

Related stories:

SBA tries again to help women-owned businesses get contracts

Small businesses could suffer if fed contracting goes in-house

SBA's report on women-owned businesses: The unabridged version

Questions, answers on SBA's proposed rule for women-owned small businesses

“This rule will be a platform for changing that,” SBA Administrator Karen Mills said.

A preview of the final 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 contract for women business owners without giving first preference to a particular type of small business.

In SBA’s rule, officials identified 83 industries in which women would be eligible for federal contract assistance under the new program. (Read an unabridged list of the industries.)

Officials used the analysis in a 2007 study commissioned by SBA from the Kauffman-Rand Foundation to determine where women are underrepresented.

About the Author

Matthew Weigelt is a freelance journalist who writes about acquisition and procurement.


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