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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GAO: WOSB Set-Asides and Sole Sources are Discretionary, not Mandatory

Historically, Uncle Sam has struggled to meet its WOSB contracting goals. It wasn’t until 2015, in fact, that the government first met its WOSB contracting goal and, since then, has continued to struggle to meet it.

Thankfully, agencies are authorized to use set-asides and sole-source awards to increase WOSB participation. But as a recent GAO decision shows, an agency isn’t required to use either procedure.

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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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WOSB Program: Company Ineligible Because Husband Managed Business

A self-certified woman-owned small business was ineligible for a WOSB set-aside contract because the woman owner’s husband held the company’s highest officer position and appeared to manage its day-to-day operations.

A recent SBA Office of Hearings and Appeals decision highlights the importance of ensuring that a woman be responsible for managing the day-to-day business of a WOSB–and that the woman’s role be reflected both in the corporate paperwork and in practice.

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SmallGovCon Week In Review: February 29-March 4, 2016

Now that the calendar says March, I’m getting ready for March Madness.  The basketball excitement is building here in Lawrence, home of the #1 ranked Jayhawks.  Tomorrow, I’ll be at Allen Fieldhouse for the last home game of the season, and a farewell to senior standout Perry Ellis.

But don’t worry, I won’t let my excitement over March Madness deter me from bringing you our SmallGovCon Week In Review. This week’s collection of government contracts stories brings great news for WOSBs and EDWOSBs, an update on the abrupt cancellation of a major DHS contract, an effort to permit SDVOSBs to obtain disadvantaged status with the Department of Transportation, and much more.

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WOSB Program: 15 Of 34 Set-Aside Awards Improper, Says SBA OIG

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.

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WOSB Self-Certification Elimination: The SBA Weighs In

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.

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