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Oles Morrison

SBA Announces Implementation of Women-Owned Small Business Program

Mon Apr 4, 2011

As of Friday, February 4, 2011, women-owned small businesses (“WOSBs”) can begin taking steps to participate in the SBA’s new contracting program, which was designed to provide greater access to federal contracting opportunities for WOSBs and economically-disadvantages WOSBs (“EDWOSBs”).  The program, for the first time, allows contracting officers to set aside specific contracts for certified WOSBs and EDWOSBs, which will help federal agencies achieve the existing statutory goal of five percent (5%) of federal contracting dollars being awarded to WOSBs.  The program, which was published in the Federal Register back in early October 2010, will be fully implemented over the next several months, with the first contracts expected to be awarded by the fourth quarter of 2011. 

The SBA has released instructions on how to participate in the program and implemented a secure, online data repository for WOSBs to upload required documents which can be accessed at: www.sba.gov/wosb.  The SBA has also indicated that it will be releasing an application for those seeking to become a third-party certifier for the program (at this time, the SBA has not approved any third-party certifiers).  The SBA welcomes comments and suggestions on the first version of the application.

In the interim, the SBA encourages small business owners to familiarize themselves with the program’s requirements and ensure that the required documents are uploaded to the repository.  WOSBs will also need to update their status in the Central Contractors Registration (CCR) and the Online Representation and Certification Application (ORCA) to indicate their eligibility to participate in the program to contracting officers.  These systems are currently being updated, and are expected to be up and running by April 2011.

Of note, the WOSB rule in the Federal Acquisition Regulation (FAR), which is the companion to the SBA rule, is now going through final review and is expected to be issued by April of this year.