Congress thwarts set-aside for woman-owned businesses

Women-owned businesses won't be getting a set-aside program of their own afternall. The fiscal 2009 spending law blocked the Bush administration’s regulations regarding contract set-asides for woman-owned small businesses.

The law, signed March 10, prohibits the Small Business Administration from using any appropriations money to implement a rule issued in October 2008 regarding federal contract assistance for woman-owned small businesses.

The Bush administration’s final rules and procedures give agencies ways to identify the industries in which women business owners are underrepresented or substantially underrepresented in federal procurement. The rule didn’t finalize the naming of the industries, but SBA had proposed expanding the set-aside program from four obscure industries, which include kitchen-cabinet making, to 31. The information technology industry was not included.

Women’s groups were pleased with the spending law’s provision, and many woman-owned technology firms were hoping for inclusion among the underrepresented industries.

The law’s provision states: “None of the funds made available under this act may be used by the Small Business Administration to implement the rule relating to women-owned small business federal contract assistance procedures published in the Federal Register on Oct. 1, 2008.”

About the Author

Matthew Weigelt is a freelance journalist who writes about acquisition and procurement.

Reader Comments

Wed, Mar 17, 2010

Maybe only SINGLE women should be eligible for this program. Another reason that men will become obsolete.

Mon, Mar 23, 2009 Judy Bradt Washington DC

The title of Weigelt's article implies that Congress did a BAD thing. Actually, in this case, Congress is synonymous with PROgress. By killing this proposed set aside program, which was flawed from the moment it began its seven year lurch through an unsympathetic Administration, Congress has wiped the slate clean for a fresh start. Watch for Women Impacting Public Policy -- the voice of 500,000 women business owners -- to work closely with Sen. Landrieu and the Senate Small Business Committee to propose a women's procurement program that CAN make a profound difference in the economic impact of federal procurement spending.

Tue, Mar 17, 2009 lkaye wpafb oh

While I agree that a lot of "woman-owned businesses are just throw offs from men using it as a front"; my small business/company is a real woman-owned company that saved the military installations from (alleged) explosive network cable -- and now how do I or my company get repaid? By this fraud? What now? That was Plan A - Plan B? And no, this was not for baking cookies!

Tue, Mar 17, 2009 Bill TX

Roughly 80% of the Women-owned firms I have encountered are front organizations where the husband runs the company and the owner only shows up every once in a while to count the money. We as a country need to take care of Disabled Veterans FIRST, not LAST. Women-owned businesses are nice but SDVOSBs do not need another special class of people in front of them. The only set-aside that all but two agencies fail to fulfill is SDVOSB. Congress has waited 228 years to give Vets an even playing field.

Tue, Mar 17, 2009 oakton

This is a tough one because, from my perspective, legitimate women-owned businesses deserve the same preferences as other protected groups. That having been said, people have been gaming this one for years by men simply transferring businesses into their wives/partenrs names to get preference and do NOT deserve it.

Please post your comments here. Comments are moderated, so they may not appear immediately after submitting. We will not post comments that we consider abusive or off-topic.

Please type the letters/numbers you see above

What is your e-mail address?

My e-mail address is:

Do you have a password?

Forgot your password? Click here


  • POWER TRAINING: How to engage your customers

    Don't miss our Aug. 2 Washington Technology Power Training session on Mastering Stakeholder Engagement, where you'll learned the critical skills you need to more fully connect with your customers and win more business. Read More


    In our latest Project 38 Podcast, editor Nick Wakeman interviews Tom Romeo, the leader of Maximus Federal about how it has zoomed up the 2019 Top 100. Read More

contracts DB

Washington Technology Daily

Sign up for our newsletter.

Terms and Privacy Policy consent

I agree to this site's Privacy Policy.