President Obama has signed a law that seeks to level the playing field for women-owned businesses seeking federal contracts. The National Defense Authorization Act for fiscal year 2015, Section 825, authorizes federal agencies to award sole-source contracts to women-owned small businesses eligible for the Woman-Owned Small Business (WOSB) Federal Contract Program, giving women the same level of access to the federal contracting marketplace as other disadvantaged groups.
This is a critical move that will now allow women-owned small businesses to earn their fair share of the federal marketplace and gain economic opportunities, notes Administrator of the U.S. Small Business Administration, Maria Contreras-Sweet. “Women entrepreneurs are growing at an unprecedented rate. More than one in four U.S. companies is owned or led by a woman, and these firms employ more than 7.8 million Americans. Passage of the women’s small business provision in NDAA is a win for women entrepreneurs and a win for America. This will help women-owned small businesses gain equal access to federal contracting as they add jobs to the U.S. economy. A big thank you to the leaders of the Senate and House Small Business and Armed Services Committees for helping make this a reality,” said Contreras-Sweet in a statement.
In July, Administrator Contreras-Sweet testified before the U.S. Senate Committee on Small Business and Entrepreneurship that federal agencies needed this tool to level the playing field for women-owned businesses. Many of the committee members shared the sentiment, and the SBA worked with Congress and key small business stakeholders to include this provision.
Currently, women entrepreneurs are receiving less than five percent of federal contracts. While Congress established the WOSB Federal Contract program in legislation passed in 2000, it was not implemented. From President Obama’s first day in office, providing economic opportunity to women has been a top priority and the steps to enact the program were put in motion, which was implemented in April 2011.
This new provision will give the SBA a new tool to continue to open doors for more women entrepreneurs in the federal and commercial contract space. SBA’s efforts include aggressively promoting the Women-Owned Small Business Contract Program, which aims to expand federal contracting opportunities for women-owned small businesses.