The Mysterious Case of the Missing SBA Women-Owned Small Business Certification Program

On December 19, 2014, then-President Obama signed the 2015 National Defense Authorization Act into law.  The 2015 NDAA eliminated the statutory basis for federal agencies to award women-owned small business set-aside contracts to self-certified companies.  In essence, then, the 2015 NDAA effectively eliminated WOSB self-certification.

Flash forward almost four years, and the SBA has not yet implemented a WOSB certification program.  In fact, the SBA hasn’t even proposed rules to implement such a program.  Instead, although the SBA continues to license a few third-party certifiers, the SBA also continues to say that WOSBs “can self-certify directly at certify.sba.gov by answering questions and uploading documents.”

So where the heck is the mysteriously missing SBA WOSB certification program?  And is it even legal for the SBA to continue allowing WOSB self-certification?

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SBA Inspector General: 89% of WOSB Sole Source Contracts Were Improper

Nearly 90% of women-owned small business sole source contracts reviewed by the SBA Office of Inspector General were improper, according to a startling report issued yesterday.

In the study, the SBA OIG concluded that because of pervasive flaws in the award of WOSB and EDWOSB sole source contracts, “there was no assurance that these contracts were awarded to firms that were eligible to receive sole-source awards under the Program.”  And if that wasn’t enough, the SBA OIG reiterated its position that, as a legal matter, it is improper to award any WOSB or EDWOSB sole source contract to a self-certified company.

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GAO: WOSB Self-Certification May Allow “Potentially Ineligible Businesses” To Get Contracts

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.

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WOSB Program Changes: My “Game Changers” Podcast

The woman-owned small business program is in the midst of major changes: from the addition of sole source authority, to lingering questions about what the heck the SBA’s plan is to address the elimination of WOSB self-certification.

I recently joined host “Game Changers” podcast host Michael LeJune of Federal Access for an in-depth discussion of recent WOSB program changes, and where the WOSB program goes from here.  Click here to listen to the podcast, and visit the Game Changers SoundCloud page for more great discussions with government contracting thought leaders.

SmallGovCon Week In Review: July 5-8, 2016

Welcome back after a hopefully enjoyable long 4th of July weekend! Although this week is a shortened one, there was no shortage of government contracting news floating around the county.

This week’s SmallGovCon Week In Review looks at the number of suspensions and debarments of government contractors, a proposed penalty for Pentagon contractors trying to game the system, a case of procurement fraud and much more.

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WOSB Third-Party Certification: Which Certifier To Use?

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).

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SBA Doubles Down On WOSB Self-Certification With New Website

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?

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