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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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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WOSB Certification: SBA Seeks Public Comments

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.”

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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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