Women-owned businesses gain more access to federal contracts

Women-owned small businesses will have greater access to federal contracting opportunities as a result of changes included in the National Defense Authorization Act of 2013.

Changes were made to the U.S. Small Business Administration’s Women-Owned Small Business Federal Contract Program, which include removing the anticipated award price of the contract thresholds for women-owned small businesses and economically disadvantaged women-owned small businesses. The change is expected to allow women-owned businesses greater access to federal contracting opportunities without limitations to the size of the contract.

Prior to the new law, the anticipated award price of the contract for women-owned and economically disadvantaged women-owned small businesses could not exceed $6.5 million for manufacturing contracts and $4 million for all other contracts.

The new law gives a more inclusive view of entrepreneurship and helps small businesses succeed, said SBA Administrator Karen Mills.

“Today, women own 30 percent of all small businesses up from just 5 percent 40 years ago,” she said. “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.”

Colorado ranks among the top for women-owned businesses, according to the Women’s Business Development Center and the Center for Women’s Business Research. Women-owned firms make up 29.2 percent of all firms in the state and in El Paso County, women own 31.4 percent of all businesses.

The Women’s Federal Contract Program allows contracting officers to set aside specific contracts for certified women-owned businesses and will help federal agencies achieve the existing statutory goal of five percent of federal contracting dollars being awarded to WOSBs, Mills said.

The law also requires the Small Business Administration conduct a study to identify and report industries underrepresented by women-owned small businesses.  As a result, more eligible women-owned businesses may be able to participate in SBA’s Women’s Federal Contract Program and compete for and win federal contracts, Mills said.

To qualify as a WOSB, a firm must be at least 51 percent owned and controlled by one or more women, and primarily managed by one or more women.  The women must be U.S. citizens and the firm must be considered small according to SBA size standards.  To be deemed “economically disadvantaged,” a firm’s owners must meet specific financial requirements set forth in the program regulations. Details about WOSB are on the SBA webite.