Policy change to aid women-owned firms

WASHINGTON — Women-owned small businesses will have greater access to federal contracting opportunities as a result of changes to a federal law.

The new law, included in the National Defense Authorization Act of 2013, affects the Small Business Administration’s Women-Owned Small Business Federal Contract Program.

The act removes the limit on the monetary amount of a federal contract that women-owned and economically disadvantaged women-owned small businesses can bid on.

Prior to the new law, the anticipated award price of a 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 Women’s Federal Contract Program allows contracting officers to set aside specific contracts for certified women-owned small businesses and will help federal agencies achieve the existing statutory goal of 5 percent of federal contracting dollars being awarded.

The law also requires the SBA to conduct another 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 federal contracts.

To qualify as a women-owned small business, 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.

For more information on the Women-Owned Small Business Program or to access the instructions, applications or database, please visit www.sba.gov/wosb.

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