Introducing the Women-Owned Small Business Federal Contracting Program

Back in October 2010 the United States Small Business Administration finalized its WOSB Rule to start a new Women-Owned Small Business Federal Contract Program, after a study from the Kauffman-RAND Foundation found 83 industries (based on NAICS codes) where women-owned small businesses were being underrepresented. Beginning Friday, February 4th 2011 the WOSB Federal Contract Program implementation will move forward and it is anticipated the first contracts will be awarded in the fourth quarter of 2011.

This Program allows Contracting Officers an opportunity to set aside specific contracts when they believe there is a “reasonable expectation that two or more” Women-Owned Small Business (WOSB) and/or Economically Disadvantaged Women-Owned Small Business (EDWOSB) will submit fair and reasonable pricing. These set asides must fall within the 83 identified industries where EDWOSBs and/or WOSBs are underrepresented. (A list of the 83 industry codes being targeted can be found HERE.) Also, the contracts cannot be for greater than $5 million for manufacturing and $3 million for other contract types.

A WOSB must be 51% owned and controlled by a woman owner(s) who is a United States citizen. Additionally, to be considered for EDWOSB status a “woman is presumed economically disadvantaged if she has a personal net worth of less than $750,000, her adjusted gross yearly income averaged over the three years preceding the certification does not exceed $350,000, and the fair market value of all her assets (including her primary residence and the value of the business concern) does not exceed $6 million.”

To be approved for either EDWOSB or WOSB status by the SBA a business must be certified as woman-owned by a Federal or State government agency, such as the Department of Transportation’s Disadvantaged Business Enterprise certification or the SBA’s 8a certification. (The SBA is considering accepting certification by a national 3rd-party certifying agency; however, none have yet been approved.) A copy of the business’s certification must be provided to the SBA for the WOSB Program Repository, along with other documentation requested. If not already certified, the firm must provide documented proof of female ownership and control that meets SBA standards to be considered for either EDWOSB or WOSB status. These documents must be uploaded into the SBA’s new WOSB repository that will be available on February 4th, 2011.  Check this link for updated information.  A firm should also self-certify its woman-owned status in the CCR (Central Contractor Registration) and ORCA (Online Representations and Certifications Application).

Beginning February 4th the SBA will release further details on how to participate in the WOSB Federal Contract Program, including the launch of their secure online data repository, which will be found at: To accommodate this Program the General Services Administration is also updating its systems. The changes are expected to be completed by April 2011. Also expected in April is the finalization of the FAR (Federal Acquisition Regulations) WOSB rule, which will be the companion to the SBA’s WOSB rule.

Further details about the WOSB Program can be found in the Program’s Frequently Asked Questions and Fact Sheet documents.

10 thoughts on “Introducing the Women-Owned Small Business Federal Contracting Program”

  1. I personally feel these these new initiatives are needed and I am happy to learn that the US SBA has come on board and recognized that women-owned and operated enterprises are just as disadvantaged as those run by their male minority counterparts. My only qualm with this is that the agency has restricted contracting opportunities to these 83 specific NAICS/industry codes. Surely, should such an imposition be made under “normal” SBA or other diversity initiatives, there would be some outrage at the confinement of opportunities. But, in the long run, any place is a better place to get things up and running than not doing so at all.

    1. I believe the goal of this program was to target NAICS codes which would be considered non-traditional for WBE businesses, and in which WBE businesses are currently under-represented in contract awards.

  2. I do not see the need of taking such initiatives if at all the discrimination in the society stops existing. It is good that government is taking such steps towards the women but I do not see a reason why women fall in such category which require special attention.

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    1. Not sure either, since women-owned businesses can get 8(a) certification. This certificate is restricted to certain NAICS codes where WBEs are under-represented. Maybe that was the rationale.

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