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SBA Program Aids Women-Owned Business

Women-owned small businesses are now able to participate in a new federal contracting program, the U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA) announced. The new Women-Owned Small Business (WOSB) Federal Contract Program will be fully implemented during the next several months, with the first contracts expected to be awarded by the fourth quarter of fiscal year 2011.
The WOSB Federal Contract Program will provide greater access to federal contracting opportunities for WOSBs and economically dis-advantaged women-owned small businesses (EDWOSBs). The program allows contracting officers, for the first time, to set aside specific contracts for certified WOSBs and EDWOSBs and will help federal agencies achieve the existing statutory goal of 5 % of federal contracting dollars to be awarded to WOSBs.
On Feb. 4, SBA released instructions on how to participate in the program, and launched a secure, online data repository for WOSBs to upload required documents, on its website:
SBA also released an application to become SBA-approved third-party certifier for this program. SBA welcomes comments and suggestions on the first version of the application.
Over the next several months, SBA encourages small business owners to review the program requirements and ensure their required documents are uploaded to the repository. WOSBs also will need to update their status in the Central Contractor Registration and the Online Representation and Certification Application to indicate to contracting officers that they are eligible to participate. The General Services Administration is currently updating these systems and they are expected to be completed in April 2011.
Similarly, the WOSB rule in the Federal Acquistion Regulation, which is the companion to the SBA rule, is now going through final review, and also expected to be issued in April. With these peices in place, SBA expects to see the first contracts awarded through the program by the all-important fourth quarter, when the largest percent of federal contracts are awarded.
Every firm that wishes to participate in the WOSB program must meet the eligibility requirements and either self-certify or obtain third-party certification. At this time, SBA has not approved any third-party certifiers. Regardless of their certification method , WOSBs must also upload required documents providing their eligibility to as secure online data repository developed and maintained by SBA.
To qualify as a WOSB, a firm must be at least 51% owned  and contralloed by one or more women, and primarily managed by one or more women. The women must be a US citizen and the firm must be considered "small" according to SBA size standards. To be deemed "economically dis-advantaged," a firms owner's must meet specific financial requriements set forth in the program regulations.

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