Thanks to a recent final ruling by the U.S. Small Business Administration last October, women-owned small businesses (WOSBs) can look forward to exciting opportunities starting February 4, 2011. In an effort to level the playing field and give women a better shot at competing for federal contracts, some requirements have been changed regarding contracting set aside procedures.
What are set asides?
Set aside contracts are those contracts which are restricted to competition only from certain eligible groups. For example, if a contract is designated as a set aside for WOSBs, only those businesses which are at least 51 percent owned and controlled by one or more women can compete for that contract.
Underrepresented and Substantially Underrepresented
In addition to other requirements mandated by the ruling, 83 NAICS codes have been designated as eligible for federal contracting under the new WOSB Program. Out of these eligible NAICS codes, 45 are those in which WOSBs are underrepresented and 38 in which WOSBs are substantially underrepresented. Small businesses owned and operated by women in these industries would be wise to prepare for contracting opportunities they are eligible for under this program. For a full listing of the eligible NAICS codes, please click here.
To qualify as a WOSB, the business must be under at least 51% direct and unconditional ownership by one or more women. Additionally, one or more women must control the management and daily business operations of the small business. Further, the woman must hold the highest officer position, manage it on a full time basis and devote full time to the concerns of the business during its normal working hours. This same woman must also not engage in outside employment which prevents her from focusing her time and attention sufficiently to the daily affairs of the WOSB.
WOSBs must either self certify or be certified by an SBA approved Third Party Certifier. Also, all other government contractor requirements must be met, such as CCR and ORCA registration. For more information about CCR and ORCA registration, or taking advantage of the upcoming WOSB program, please contact US Federal Contractor Registration at (877) 252-2700.