In May, the Small Business Administration issued an interim final rule amending its regulations to implement changes to the Women-Owned Small Business (WOSB) Program as a result of the National Defense Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2013 (NDAA 2013).
Prior to the changes by NDAA 2013, contracting officers were allowed to set-aside contracts under the WOSB Program only if the anticipated award contract price did not exceed $5 million for manufacturing contracts and $3 million for all other contracts, adjusted for inflation. However, as the SBA noted, such “dollar value restrictions under the program limited a contractor’s ability to set-aside contracts for WOSBs or EDWOSBs [economically disadvantaged women-owned small businesses]” which resulted in the government falling short of its statutory 5% government-wide goal for procurement to WOSBs.
To that end, the NDAA 2013 revisions as implemented and effective immediately upon issuance of the SBA final interim rule, the SBA has removed the dollar value limitations note above. Instead, contracting officers may now award set-aside contracts to EDWOSBs or WOSBs if (a) there is a reasonable expectation that, in industries in which WOSBs are underrepresented, two or more EDWOSBs will submit offers for the contract or, in industries where WOSBs are substantially underrepresented, two or more WOSBs will submit offers for the contract; and (b) in the estimation of the contracting officer, the contract can be awarded at a fair and reasonable price.
With this immediate change, the SBA hopes to “clarify that there are more contracting opportunities for WOSBs which [SBA expects] should result in more contracts being awarded to this group of small businesses.” Any comments to the interim final rules should be addressed to SBA by June 6, 2013.