The SBA has launched a new WOSB portal to help women-owned businesses better manage the WOSB self-certification process–even though Congress eliminated the statutory authority for self-certification more than a year ago.
The SBA apparently was caught off guard by Congress’s action, but I don’t understand why the SBA is spending time and resources to improve a prohibited self-certification mechanism. While the SBA continues to state that WOSB self-certification remains valid indefinitely, the SBA has yet to answer what should be a simple question: what the heck is the legal justification for continuing to promote a self-certification mechanism that Congress has explicitly eliminated?
WOSB sole source authority is now part of the FAR.
Effective December 31, 2015, the FAR Council has adopted an interim rule incorporating the WOSB sole source authority adopted in the 2013 National Defense Authorization Act and recently made part of the SBA’s regulations.
A year after Congress surprisingly eliminated WOSB self-certification, the SBA is asking for public comment on how to certify WOSBs.
In a notice published today, the SBA states that it intends to draft regulations to address the statutory change, but “seeks to understand what the public believes is the most appropriate way to structure a WOSB/EDWOSB certification program.”
The SBA should implement a women-owned small business certification program, according to the SBA’s own Inspector General.
In a recent report on management challenges facing the SBA, the SBA Office of Inspector General urged the SBA to adopt a WOSB certification program–and stated that failing to do so may allow ineligible firms to receive WOSB set-aside contracts.
WOSB and EDWOSB sole source contracts will be authorized under the SBA’s regulations effective October 14, 2015.
In a final rule published today, the SBA implemented regulatory authority pursuant to which Contracting Officers may issue sole source contracts. The question now is whether Contracting Officers will be willing to issue sole source contracts based on the SBA’s rule–or will wait until the FAR Council adopts similar authority.
Of 34 WOSB and EDWOSB set-aside awards examined by the SBA Office of Inspector General, 15 of those awards were improper.
The SBA OIG’s conclusion comes in a new WOSB program report, and suggests that some Contracting Officers are unaware of the WOSB progran’s unique requirements, including the NAICS code limitations for WOSB and EDWOSB set-asides.
The SBA has acknowledged that Congress eliminated WOSB self-certification in the 2015 NDAA–but suggests that WOSB self-certification may continue until the SBA adopts a regulatory framework for a formal certification program.
In a proposed rule released today, the SBA adopts a pragmatic approach that nonetheless may be legally problematic given that Congress did not authorize a continuation of WOSB self-certification pending SBA regulatory action.