GAO: Women-owned businesses need a boost from SBA

Small Business Administration officials need to protect its woman-owned small business program by keeping a closer eye on both third-party certifiers and eligible companies, according to a Government Accountability Office report released this week.

“SBA performs minimal oversight of third-party certifiers and has yet to develop procedures that provide reasonable assurance that only eligible businesses obtain [woman-owned, small business] set-aside contracts,” GAO wrote.

GAO found that SBA has limited information about certifiers. SBA officials do not use that information to ensure certifiers adhere to program requirements.

Boiled down, GAO concludes that SBA cannot reasonably assure that only qualified companies are a part of the woman-owned, small business program. Officials have missed opportunities to oversee certifiers and then follow up on concerns about fraud regarding individual businesses, because they do not conduct monthly reviews.

“Expanding its examination of firms and analyzing and following up on the results, SBA could advance the key program goal of restricting competition for set-aside contracts,” GAO wrote.

John Shoraka, associate administrator of the Office of Government Contracting and Business Development at SBA, generally agreed with GAO’s recommendations and is already putting the recommendations in place.

About the Author

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

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