Big Win in the House for Women Seeking Access to Federal Contracts
On May 22, 2014 the U.S. House of Representatives took a big step to improve the Women-Owned Small Business (WOSB) Federal Contract Program by voting 325 to 98 to pass the National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) for Fiscal Year 2015, which includes a provision authorizing sole-source contracts in the WOSB procurement program. Currently, contracting officers are unable to award sole-source contracts through the WOSB program. All other major small business contracting programs have this ability – and this change fixes that inequity.
The amendment to the NDAA also expedites a disparity study by the U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA) which identifies under-represented industries for participation in the WOSB procurement program. Out of the 1,200 industries serving the federal government, fewer than 350 have been approved to be included in the WOSB program. Supporters have noted that WOSB is the only program that restricts what small business industries may participate in contracting. National small business advocates, Women Impacting Public Policy (WIPP), say this study is critical to expanding the program to more industries and leveling the economic playing field.
The WOSB program, officially launched in 2011, is a critical gateway into government contracting for women entrepreneurs nationwide. Since its inception, the WOSB program has been hampered by many restrictions that other small business programs do not experience. These restrictions include limitations on the size and type of contracts awarded, limitations to specific industries, and no sole-source contracting.
This critical step to parity for the WOSB program was made possible with support from WIPP and its broad coalition of women’s business and small business organizations. The 2015 NDAA next moves to the Senate. Supporters of the WOSB procurement program in the Senate are actively working to include similar language in the Senate version of the FY2015 NDAA. If the Senate agrees to the House amendment and the President signs the bill into law, WOSBs could begin receiving sole source contracts in the not-too-distant future.
About BH Sky
BH Sky Associates, based in Princeton, New Jersey, and Washington, D.C., helps clients identify, negotiate, secure, market and manage procurement opportunities and government contracts at all levels. It is New Jersey’s only company specializing in GSA/VA Schedule Contracts and Government Market Intelligence. BH Sky offers professional consulting services to small and mid-size companies in a wide range of industries seeking to do business at all levels of government. For more information, view our videos or contact us directly by phone 866.468.7420 or email.