Georgia Tech hosting Atlanta Women’s Economic Summit on June 24

“Driving Opportunities and Influence” is the theme of an event being held in Atlanta on June 24, 2015 by the U.S. Women’s Chamber of Commerce (USWCC) and hosted by Georgia Tech’s Contracting Education Academy.

uswccThe event is an effort on the part of the USWCC to work with the women of Atlanta to advance economic opportunities and influence.

“Working together,” states USWCC CEO Margot Dorfman, “we will gain a good understanding of our current economic position, centers of influence within the region and steps we can take together to drive progress.  Please join us and be part of a strong economic future for women in Atlanta — and across the U.S.”

CEO Dorfman and Co-Founder Terry Williams will lead the Atlanta Women’s Economic Summit.

Agenda items on the morning of June 24 include: Women’s Economic Priorities, State of the State of Georgia Women in Business, Finding Centers of Influence for Economic Development, Tapping in to Secure Business Opportunities, Driving Opportunities and Influence, Success Strategies, and Cornerstones for the Future – Taking the Lead.  The event concludes after a lunch break, with a discussion of Opportunities and Strategic Planning for Those Interested in Leadership.

This summit will be held in Technology Square in Midtown Atlanta at the Centergy Building, 75 Fifth St, NW, Atlanta, GA 30308.

Pre-registration is required, and is open to USWCC members and non-members alike.  Registration may be accomplished at: https://uswcc.org/events/atlanta-womens-economic-summit.

IG finds both agency implementation and SBA oversight of WOSB program to be flawed

Federal agencies’ contracting officers are awarding set-aside contracts without meeting the set-aside requirements associated with the Small Business Administration’s Woman-Owned Small Business (WOSB) program.

This finding, among others, appears in a report issued on May 14, 2015 by the SBA’s Office of Inspector General (OIG).

SBA - IGThe OIG report states that as much as $7.1 million worth of contracts received by WOSBs in fiscal year (FY) 2014 may be improper.  For example, 10 of 34 WOSB set-aside awards were for ineligible work, and 9 of these 34 were awarded to firms that did not provide required documentation to prove they were eligible WOSBs.

In addition to the 9 WOSB awards that did not have any ownership or control documentation in the SBA’s WOSB Repository, the OIG identified 13 of 25 firms in their audit sample that uploaded only some — but not all — of the required documentation to the Repository, thus also bringing their program eligibility into question.

Additionally, 12 businesses did not provide sufficient documentation to prove that a woman or women controlled the day-to-day operations of their firms.  These firms, which received $8 million in contracts, also may be ineligible for their WOSB set-aside awards.

The OIG report is critical not only of agencies’ implementation of the federal WOSB program but also of SBA’s lax oversight.  Accordingly, OIG made five recommendations to the SBA’s Associate Administrator for Government Contracting and Business Development calling for improvements in how SBA manages and administers the WOSB program.

It should be noted that even before the OIG’s report, the SBA’s WOSB program already was slated to undergo some major programmatic changes based on the National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) for both FY 2013 and 2015.  The NDAAs stipulated considerable increases SBA’s oversight responsibilities.  Specifically, the FY 2015 Act will: 1) grant contracting officers the authority to award sole-source awards to WOSB firms, 2) remove firms’ ability to self-certify, and 3) require firms to be certified.  The SBA is still determining how it will implement these mandated changes.

The OIG’s full report can be downloaded here: Improvements_Needed_in_SBAs_Management_of_WOSB_Program-OIG_Report_15-10

The small-business conundrum

Recent news reveals that federal agencies overstated their success last year in contracting with small businesses that face socioeconomic disadvantages. It turns out that the Small Business Administration’s inspector general identified over $400 million of contract actions awarded to ineligible firms, thus overstating SB goaling performance in FY13.

Download the IG report here.

While reasons for misreporting are one issue, the perennial issue of meeting SB goals persists. Some people joke that when an agency fails to meet their SB target, the response is to increase it. Does goal setting work? Everyone agrees with fundamental ideals of small entrepreneurs and businesses bringing fresh ideas, outlooks, and solutions to government and societal problems.

Keep reading this article at: http://www.federaltimes.com/article/20141008/BLG06/310080012/The-small-business-conundrum 

Contracting officers now able to set-aside contracts of any dollar amount to WOSBs

An interim final rule published May 7, 2013 in the Federal Register and effective immediately will amend regulations to the U.S. Small Business Administration’s Women-Owned Small Business Federal Contract Program allowing for greater access to federal contracting opportunities for women-owned businesses as a result of the National Defense Authorization Act of 2013 (NDAA) signed in January.

The interim final rule removes the anticipated award price of the contract thresholds for women-owned small businesses (WOSB) and economically disadvantaged women-owned small businesses (EDWOSB) to allow them greater access to federal contracting opportunities without limitations to the size of the contract.   The rule can be accessed at: http://www.gpo.gov/fdsys/pkg/FR-2013-05-07/html/2013-10841.htm  and comments can be submitted on or before June 6, 2013, at www.regulations.gov, identified by the following RIN number:  RIN 3245-AG55.

As a result of the rule change, contracting officers will be able to set aside specific contracts for certified WOSBs and EDWOSBs at any dollar level which will help federal agencies achieve the existing statutory goal of five percent of federal contracting dollars being awarded to WOSBs. The SBA is currently working on the changes to the Federal Acquisition Regulations.

Prior to the rule change, the anticipated award price of the 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.

Every firm that wishes to participate in the WOSB program must meet the eligibility requirements and either self-certify or obtain third party certification.  There are four approved third-party certifiers that perform eligibility exams: El Paso Hispanic Chamber of Commerce, National Women Business Owners Corporation, U.S. Women’s Chamber of Commerce, and the Women’s Business Enterprise National Council. Additional information and links about approved third-party certifiers are available at: http://www.sba.gov/content/contracting-opportunities-women-owned-small-businesses

To qualify as a WOSB, a firm must be at least fifty-one 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.

The WOSB Program identifies eighty-three four-digit North American Industry Classification Systems (NAICS) codes where WOSBs are underrepresented or substantially underrepresented.   Contracting officers may set aside contracts in these industries if the contract can be awarded at a fair and reasonable price and the contracting officer has a reasonable expectation that two or more WOSBs or EDWOSBs will submit offers for the contract.

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

Defense Act causes SBA to lift dollar limits on WOSB set-asides

Women-owned small businesses will have greater access to federal contracting opportunities as a result of changes included in the National Defense Authorization Act of 2013 (NDAA) to the U.S. Small Business Administration’s Women-Owned Small Business Federal Contract Program.

“This new law is a prime example of how the Obama Administration is embracing a more inclusive view of entrepreneurship, helping small businesses and America succeed,” said SBA Administrator Karen Mills. “Today, women own 30 percent of all small businesses up from just 5 percent 40 years ago. As one of the fastest growing sectors of small business owners in the country, opening the door for women to compete for more federal contracts is a win-win.”

The NDAA removes the anticipated award price of the contract thresholds for women-owned small businesses (WOSB) and economically disadvantaged women-owned small businesses (EDWOSB) to allow them greater access to federal contracting opportunities without limitations to the size of the contract. Prior to the new law, the anticipated award price of the 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 WOSBs and EDWOSBs and will help federal agencies achieve the existing statutory goal of five percent of federal contracting dollars being awarded to WOSBs.

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 and win federal contracts.

These changes have not yet taken effect.  The SBA is working with the Office of Federal Procurement Policy under the President’s Office of Management and Budget on the implementation including changes to the Federal Acquisition Regulations.

Every firm that wishes to participate in the WOSB program must meet the eligibility requirements and either self-certify or obtain third party certification. There are four approved third-party certifiers that perform eligibility exams: El Paso Hispanic Chamber of Commerce, National Women Business Owners Corporation, U.S. Women’s Chamber of Commerce, and the Women’s Business Enterprise National Council. Additional information and links about approved third-party certifiers are available at www.sba.gov/wosb. To qualify as a WOSB, a firm must be at least fifty-one 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.

The WOSB Program identifies eighty-three four-digit North American Industry Classification Systems (NAICS) codes where WOSBs are underrepresented or substantially underrepresented. Contracting officers may set aside contracts in these industries if the contract can be awarded at a fair and reasonable price and the contracting officer has a reasonable expectation that two or more WOSBs or EDWOSBs will submit offers for the contract.

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