Effort gives WOSBs increased opportunities to compete for and win federal contracts

The U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA) has announced that women who own small businesses can now begin taking steps to participate in a new federal contracting program. The new Women-Owned Small Business (WOSB) Federal Contract Program will be fully implemented over the next several months, with the first contracts expected to be awarded by the fourth quarter of fiscal year 2011.

The program will provide greater access to federal contracting opportunities for WOSBs and economically disadvantaged women-owned small businesses. It allows contracting officers, for the first time, to set aside specific contracts for certified WOSBs and will help federal agencies achieve the existing statutory goal of 5% of federal contracting dollars being awarded to WOSBs.

Eligibility Requirements

To qualify as a WOSB, a firm must be at least 51% 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.

Every firm that wishes to participate in the WOSB program must meet the eligibility requirements, either self-certify or obtain third-party certification, and upload required documents proving their eligibility to a secure online data repository developed and maintained by the SBA.

The data repository and instructions for participating in the program are available at sba.gov/wosb.

The SBA is encouraging small business owners to review program requirements and ensure their required documents are uploaded to the repository. WOSBs also will need to update their status in the Central Contractor Registration (CCR) and the Online Representation and Certification Application (ORCA) to indicate to contracting officers that they are eligible to participate. The General Services Administration is currently updating these systems, and they are expected to be completed sometime this month.