SBA Issues Final Rule Establishing Regulations for WOSB and EDWOSB Set-Asides and Sole-Source Contracts

On September 14, 2015, the Small Business Administration published its final rule implementing new regulations for awards to Women-Owned Small Business (WOSB) and Economically Disadvantaged Women-Owned Small Businesses (EDWOSB). Now, as with other "special status" concerns such as 8(a) and Service Disabled Veteran Owned businesses, women-owned businesses will have access to set-aside and sole-source contracting opportunities. The legal basis for this final rule is §825 of the National Defense Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2015.

 

Under the current WOSB program, SBA reports that WOSBs received approximately $15 billion in contract actions according to FY 2013 small-business goaling reports. The new sole-source authority for awards to EDWOSBs and WOSBs can only be used where a contracting officer’s market research cannot identify two or more WOSBs or EDWOSBs that can perform at a fair and reasonable price but identifies one that can perform. WOSB and EDWOSB competitive set-asides and sole-source contracts can only be awarded in those industries for which WOSB and EDWOSB opportunities are authorized.

 

The final rule announced in the Federal Register is attached here and becomes effective October 14, 2015.

Women-Owned Small Business Set-Asides on Their Way?

 

The Small Business Administration (SBA) plans to implement a Women-Owned Small Business (WOSB) program that includes a full complement of benefits similar to those for the 8(a), HUB-Zone, and other programs. On May 11, 2009, the SBA announced in the Federal Register that it will revoke its previous proposed rule for a WOSB program and promulgate a new rule. Click here for announcement. [.pdf] The SBA says it is "committed to moving forward to implement a successful WOSB procurement program."

To qualify as a WOSB, a company must be small and at least 51% unconditionally and directly owned and controlled by one or more women who are United States citizens. An EDWOSB is a small business that is at least 51% unconditionally and directly owed by one or more women who are United States citizens and economically disadvantaged.

Currently, the WOSB program is limited in scope. It encourages prime contractors to subcontract with WOSBs but does not include many of the significant business opportunities SBA has established for other entities considered socially or economically disadvantaged. For instance, there currently are no set-aside procurements exclusively for competition among WOSBs. Also, there are no sole-source prime contracts for WOSBs. Nor do they enjoy any evaluation preferences in full-and-open competitions as currently exist in other socio-economic programs.

No firm date for issuance of a proposed WOSB program has been established, but the May 11, 2009, notice in the Federal Register anticipates a new announcement some time in July 2009.