SBA seeks to help women earn contracts

The Small Business Administration is seeking public comment on a proposed rule that would establish a program to assist women-owned small businesses earn a larger share of federal contracts.

The contemplated change originated in a February 2001 Government Accountability Office report that assessed the trends and obstacles in federal contracting that women-owned small businesses had encountered since 1996, according to SBA.

Contracting officers considered the lack of a targeted government program supporting the businesses to be a significant obstacle, the GAO report states. Agencies are supposed to award 5 percent of their contract dollars to woman-owned small businesses.

Section 811 of the Small Business Reauthorization Act provided such a mechanism, SBA said. But although data indicates that such businesses' share of federal contract dollars has risen each year since 1996, agencies have yet to meet the goal, the agency said.

The proposed rule change would establish a Women-Owned Small Business Federal Contract Assistance Program to be administered by SBA’s Office of Government Contracting.

Among other things, the proposed rule would:


  • Add the program to the list of government procurement programs subject to size determination.

  • Describe who may initiate a size protest in connection with a particular requirement of the program.

  • Require the businesses to meet specific requirements if they intend to subcontract.

SBA must receive comments by July 17.

For more information, contact Linda Waters, procurement analyst, Office of Federal Contract Assistance for Women Business Owners at SBA, (202) 205-7315 or Linda.Waters@sba.gov. Details are available in the June 15 edition of the Federal Register, pages 34550-34563.

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About the Author

David Hubler is the former print managing editor for GCN and senior editor for Washington Technology. He is freelance writer living in Annandale, Va.

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