Finally, the WOSB label is worth something

It took nearly 10 years, but better late than never.  Women-Owned Small Businesses  (WOSBs) and Economically Disadvantage Women-Owned Small Businesses (EDWOSBs) finally will receive a set aside benefit as providers of goods and services to the US Government.   Although the law authorizing the restriction of competition to eligible WOSBs or EDWOSBs for federal contracts in certain industries was enacted at the end of 2000, the Program won’t officially go  into effect on February 4, 2011.

I’ve had all the women-owned small businesses I work with ask me what their current WOSB designation does for them. The answer is pretty much, “Nothing” in terms of federal procurement.  I’ve also heard of many small businesses claim they are women-owned, but in fact are, for example, just using their wives’ names as the 51% owner and giving them the title of “President” and then thinking there will be a benefit to doing this.  The WOSB Program will require qualification and sort out the real women-owned from the in-name-only women-owned; another boon to WOSBs out there.

A WOSB or EDWOSB will have to self-certify their status in their CCR and ORCA and also submit documents to the WOSB Program Repository. An eligibility examination conducted by the SBA will verify the accuracy of a certification in connection with a EDWOSB or WOSB contract.

So, when may a Government Contracting Officer set aside a requirement to a WOSB? Here’s the list:

  • If the NAICS code assigned to the procurement is one which the SBA has designated as being underrepresented.  Check out http://www.sba.gov/wosb for these codes.
  • There is a reasonable expectation that two or more qualified WOSBs will submit offers.
  • The anticipated award price does not exceed $5M (for manufacturing) or $3M (for all other contracts).
  • That the contract can be awarded at a fair and reasonable price.

The 45 major NAICS codes in the Underrepresented list and 38 in the Substantially Underrepresented list.  This will be an exciting time for women business owners and their companies!