Woman-owned small business self-certifications (which the SBA still accepts more than 2 1/2 years after Congress eliminated it) may allow “potentially ineligible businesses” to win WOSB set-aside and sole source work, according to a fascinating new GAO report.
Among other things, the GAO report provides a comprehensive overview of the SBA’s progress addressing problems with the four major socioeconomic preference programs–8(a), SDVOSB, HUBZone and WOSB. And to its credit, the SBA has fixed a number of previously-identified flaws. But other problems remain, including the SBA’s now-longstanding failure to eliminate WOSB self-certification.
Women-owned small businesses are increasingly seeking to become certified through one of four SBA-approved third-party WOSB certifiers. But which third-party certifier to use?
There doesn’t seem to be any single resource summarizing the basics about the four SBA-approved certifiers, such as the application fees, processing time, and documents required by each certifier. So here it is–a roundup of the key information for three of the four SBA-approved WOSB certifiers (as you’ll see, we’ve had some problems reaching the fourth).
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?
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.