Set-aside program for women on the way, SBA says

Rule changes proposed to promote women-owned businesses

Businesswomen may get their own small-business set-aside program this year, according to one report.

Joseph Jordon, associate administrator of government contracting and business development at the Small Business Administration, told the Fed Tech BisNow newsletter that SBA may have a woman-owned small business program set up by the end of 2010.


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Officials also may approve a number of proposals, including developing a tool for procurement officials to designate contracts specifically for women-owned businesses.

In similar efforts, the Defense Acquisition Regulatory Council on Sept. 1 assigned a team of regulators, who deal with small business issues, with drafting a proposed rule for the Federal Acquisition Regulation regarding such a program, according to an official document.

The council gave the team an Oct. 13 deadline to report back, the document states.

The woman-owned small business set-aside program would be similar to the programs for service-disabled veteran-owned small businesses and small companies based in economically depressed regions, named Historically Underutilized Business Zones. Contracting officers have the option of having only a certain category of small business compete for federal work.

The program for women has been slow in coming. and has raised a lot of controversy along the way.

The Small Business Reauthorization Act of 2000 authorized officials to create a woman-owned small business procurement program in industries where women business owners are underrepresented. The government has studied the issue several times through the years and has put out controversial proposals.

Most recently, in March, the SBA released the latest proposal to amend its own regulations to set up a contracting program for women, while withdrawing a proposal from the Bush administration.

While there is no program, agencies are still evaluated annually by the SBA on how much money they award to women-owned small businesses, along with the other categories of small businesses. Agencies, as a whole, awarded more money to woman-owned small businesses in fiscal 2009 than in 2008, but still fell well short of the 5 percent contracting goal, the SBA reported in August.

About the Author

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

Reader Comments

Fri, Sep 10, 2010

This will not do ANYTHING as long as the government keeps giving small business contracts to large corporations. NOTHING will ever change, unless someone does something about it. All this is, is more smoke and mirrors. A beautiful facade, and a wonderful campaing slogan. Yet no results.

Thu, Sep 9, 2010

This is not totally unfair. I am a woman in IT for over 20 years. It is brutal for women. It is the same for any of the set asides. They all are being taken advantage of. Each set aside group should have to prove that they are really in the business. I had a SDVOB come to me and wanted to let me use his company for 50k and 20% of the GP just to use it. How does that help someone? I am a real business yet I don't play golf or go out to the bars. The good old boys do and help each other. I am smarter and work harder and still those relationships are hard to make if you don't do those things.

Thu, Sep 9, 2010 Trena

Women have been excluded from the boys club for awhile now. You should check out the reason for the program before you judge.

Thu, Sep 9, 2010 Kyle

This is totally unfair. You get business now just for being a woman? The women I know out there are just as capable as men. This is totally unfair, does not help women, does not help the USG, and does not promote competition. Why would women need a hand out if DoD procurement practices were fair?

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