Duly Noted

 Women-Owned Small Business Rule to expand opportunities

The U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA) has released a proposed rule aimed at expanding federal contracting opportunities for women-owned small businesses (WOSB), available for public comment until May 3.
The proposed rule is part of the Obama Administration’s overall commitment to expanding opportunities for small businesses to compete for federal contracts, in particular those owned by women, minorities and veterans.  The rule is aimed at providing greater opportunities while achieving the existing statutory goal that 5% of federal contracting dollars go to WOSBs.
Some components are:
•A firm must be 51% owned and controlled by one or more women, and primarily managed by one or more women, who must be U.S. citizens. The firm must be “small” in its primary industry in accordance with SBA’s size standards for that industry. Its owners must demonstrate economic disadvantage in accordance with the requirements set forth in the proposed rule. 
•Identifies 83 industries by NAICS codes in which WOSBs are under-represented or substantially under-represented, based upon the combination of both the “share of contracting dollars” analysis, as well as the “share of number of contracts awarded.” An earlier proposed version identified only four industries in which WOSBs were under-represented. 
•Authorizes a set-aside of federal contracts for WOSBs where the anticipated contract price does not exceed $5 million in the case of manufacturing and $3 million in the case of other contracts.  Contracts with values in excess of these limits are not subject to set-aside under this program.
•Removes the requirement in a prior proposed version that each federal agency certify that it had engaged in discrimination against women-owned small businesses in order for the program to apply to contracting by that agency.
•Allows women-owned small businesses to self-certify as “WOSBs” or to be certified by third-party certifiers. SBA intends vigorously to pursue ineligible firms which seek to take advantage.
To submit comments (until close of business May 3), go to www.regulations.gov, or mail them to Dean Koppel, Assistant Director, Office of Policy and Research, Office of Government Contracting, U.S. Small Business Administra-
tion, 409 3rd St. SW, Washington, DC 20416.   Reference RIN 3245-AG06 when submitting comments.