By Rebecca Barbour, SBTDC/PTAC Counselor at NC State University
Last year proved to be a year of change for the SBA’s Woman-Owned Small Business (WOSB) program. The 2015 National Defense Authorization Act removed self-certification language from the Small Business Act, created sole source authority for WOSBs, and revised the timeline for the SBA to conduct studies on underrepresented industries. Since the NDAA was published, the SBA has taken steps to revise the rules accordingly. These actions have sparked many discussions in federal contracting circles, and continue to be important for WOSBs.
Sole Source Authority
Many will remember that the SBA published a final rule in September 2015 establishing sole source procurements for WOSBs. That final rule has now been incorporated in the FAR as regulation 19.1506 “Women-Owned Small Business Program sole source awards”. As adopted by the SBA, contracting officers may now make sole source awards to WOSBs and EDWOSBs in the appropriate NAICS codes when the anticipated price of the contract is under $4 million ($6.5 million for manufacturing), the WOSB concern has been determined to be responsible, the award can be made at a fair and reasonable price, and they do not expect to get offers from multiple WOSB concerns.
When the SBA published the final rule regarding sole source authority, they opted to separate the rule make regarding self-certification. On December 18th, the SBA published a notice to the Federal Register seeking comments on certification of WOSBs and EDWOSBs. In their notice, the SBA recognizes the concerns around third part certification and the challenges to creating a new certification program.
As the SBA is asking for feedback, it is imperative that all WOSBs review the notice and submit comments. This is an opportunity for businesses to participate in shaping the rules that will govern them.
The notice will be open for comment until February 16, and may be accessed online at https://federalregister.gov/a/2015-31806.