WOSB Sole Source Authority Added To FAR

WOSB sole source authority is now part of the FAR.

Effective December 31, 2015, the FAR Council has adopted an interim rule incorporating the WOSB sole source authority adopted in the 2013 National Defense Authorization Act and recently made part of the SBA’s regulations.

The interim rule makes a number of changes to the FAR to implement the new WOSB sole source authority.  Most notably, former FAR 19.1506 has been redesignated as FAR 19.1507.  A new FAR 19.1506, called “Women-Owned Small Business Program Sole Source Awards,” is now active.

Under FAR 19.1506, a Contracting Officer generally must consider an EDWOSB or WOSB sole source award before considering small business set-asides.  A contracting officer may award an EDWOSB or WOSB sole source contract where: (1) none of the exclusions set forth in FAR 19.1504 apply; (2) the acquisition is assigned an appropriate NAICS code; (3) the contracting officer does not have a reasonable expectation that offers would be received from two or more EDWOSBs or WOSBs, as the case may be; (4) the anticipated price of the contract, including options, will not exceed $6.5 million for a contract carrying a manufacturing NAICS code or $4 million for contracts within any other NAICS code; (5) the EDWOSB or WOSB has been determined to be a responsible contractor; and (6) award can be made at a fair and reasonable price.

In my experience, some contracting officers have been reluctant to exercise their WOSB sole source authority in the absence of a FAR provision (although the NDAA and SBA regulations were all that were needed from a legal perspective).  Hopefully, the new FAR provisions will mean that more WOSB sole sources are on their way in 2016.

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