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SBA Seeks Comments on Proposed Certification Rule for Women-Owned Small Businesses

The U.S. Small Business Administration is seeking public comments on a published proposed rule that will provide a free online application process for women-owned small businesses to be certified and eligible to participate in the SBA’s Women-Owned Small Business (WOSB) Program or to gain access to contracts as a WOSB or Economically Disadvantaged Women-Owned Small Business (EDWOSB).

According to SBA Region II Regional Administrator, Steve Bulger, who oversees the agency’s programs and services for all of New Jersey, New York, Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands, the following proposals included in the new rule will:

  • Allow participation from an expanded list of federal and state entities with existing certification programs, and confirm the continued participation of approved third-party certifiers.
  • Eliminate the self-certification option consistent with the Small Business Act as amended within the National Defense Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2015, Public Law 113-291, and require approved third-party certifiers to notify applicants of its fees and the option to use SBA’s free online certification process.
  • Adopt a $750,000 net worth standard when assessing economic disadvantage for EDWOSBs and continuing eligibility for the 8(a) Business Development Program.

According to Bulger, the proposed rule will help to bolster the number of federal contract awards to WOSB and EDWOSB-certified businesses and better empower agencies to meet the 5% federal contracting goal for women-owned small businesses throughout our region.

“In 2017, the federal government issued $471million in contracts to New Jersey women-owned small businesses,” said Bulger. “This represented 5.5 percent of the total of $1.9 billion in federal contracts issued to all small business in the state. The good news is that the 5.5 percent of the contracts that New Jersey women-owned businesses received was more than the 5 percent national goal set by the federal government. Clearly, a revamped certification process will only help to increase the number of women-owned small businesses to qualify for more federal contracts.”

Under the current system, contracting officers must review a contract awardee’s documentation to verify an applicant’s WOSB and EDWOSB eligibility. “By establishing a transparent, centralized, and free certification process, SBA aims to provide contracting officers with reassurance that firms participating in the WOSB Program are eligible for awards and encourage them to set aside contracts for women-owned small businesses,” said Bulger.

The SBA is seeking public comments on the proposed rule by July 15. To review the entire proposed rule, click here. At the top of the page look for the green box that reads Submit a Formal Comment.

“It is important for women-owned small businesses and women business associations, chambers of commerce and business policy and advocacy groups to review this proposal and submit their comments,” said Bulger. “The feedback we receive from them will be helpful to us in preparing a final rule.

“We certainly want to hear from all parties, and when all is said and done their final input will assure us that we are on the right path of putting together a final rule that is going to change and improve the way women-owned firms will do business with the federal government,” he added.

The proposed rule may also be found at:–certification

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