Update 5/14/2020: Since this post was originally published, SBA’s website has clarified when SBA Certification will be available and when Self-Certification will end. The post has been updated to reflect this information.
On Monday, the Small Business Administration will publish a Final Rule updating the certification methods for businesses applying for and participating in the Women-Owned Small Business program. The new Rule will also impose new thresholds for demonstrating economic disadvantage, impacting applicants not only for the WOSB program, but also the 8(a) Business Development program.
GAO recently issued a report on several ongoing issues with SBA’s management of the Woman-Owned Small Business program. Because of the number of issues in the report, we’ll summarize it in a few posts.
In this post, we’ll provide some background on GAO’s review of the WOSB program and address how (and whether) SBA has implemented the changes required in the WOSB program by the 2015 National Defense Authorization Act. Long story short, SBA has still not done all Congress has asked of it in the 2015 NDAA, particularly with regard to eliminating 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).
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 performs only “minimal oversight” of third-party certifiers for the woman-owned small business program, and thus “lacks reasonable assurance that only eligible businesses receive WOSB set-aside contracts,” says the GAO in a recent report on the WOSB Program.
The GAO report identifies numerous weaknesses in the WOSB certification system, and provides a number of recommendations to strengthen WOSB Program oversight.