NDAA expands opportunities for women

Karen Mills

SBA Administrator Karen Mills approves of changes to the law that expand opportunities for woman-owned small businesses. (AP photo)

Agencies may have more opportunities to award contracts to small firms owned by women because of the fiscal 2013 National Defense Authorization Act.

The NDAA removed the thresholds limiting the award price of a contract to be set aside for a competition among small firms owned by women. Prior to the new law, woman-owned small businesses (WOSBs) could not receive a set-aside contract whose value exceeded $6.5 million for manufacturing contracts and $4 million for all other contracts.

Without the limitations, WOSBs will have access to more contracts due to changes to the Small Business Administration’s Women-Owned Small Business Federal Contract Program.

The changes to the law made in the defense bill may allow agencies to boost their annual scores for setting contracts aside for women. Small firms owned by women received $16.8 billion in fiscal 2011, or 3.98 percent of all federal contracting. The goal is 5 percent. In fiscal 2010, those firms received 4.04 percent.

SBA Administrator Karen Mills said the government is allowing a more inclusive view of entrepreneurship. Women own 30 percent of all small businesses today, compared to just 5 percent four decades ago.

“As one of the fastest growing sectors of small-business owners in the country, opening the door for women to compete for more federal contracts is a win-win,” she said.

SBA is working with the Office of Federal Procurement Policy on working the statutory changes into the Federal Acquisition Regulation.

About the Author

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

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