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Federal Contracting Opportunities for Women-Owned Small Businesses Part 4

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Through the Small Business Administration (SBA), women-owned small businesses (WOSB) have a great opportunity to procure government contracts. In sections one, two, and three, our Houston construction law attorneys caught you up to speed on eligibility requirements and how to become a certified WOSB. In this final section, we will discuss how contracting officers select WOSBs for projects.

WOSB Set Aside Requirements

The SBA has the right to set aside federal contracts under their authority if the bidder is in compliance with the following requirements:

  • The business is classified as a WOSB.
  • The services of the contract are in an industry that is underrepresented by WOSBs.
  • The “rule of two” applies meaning that the contracting officer believes that at least two WOSBs have submitted acceptable bids on the project; however, recent legislation also allows contracting officers to award WOSBs with a sole source contract.
  • The bid meets all necessary requirements and the contract doesn’t exceed $6.5 million for manufacturing projects and over $4 million for all other industry contracts.
  • The contract is granted to an awardee at a “fair and reasonable price.”

Fulfilling Project Requirements

Before a WOSB is awarded a project, the contracting officer will verify their eligibility as a WOSB. If the appropriate documentation wasn’t provided to the contracting officer, they have a right to protest the status of the WOSB and the project will not be awarded to this entity. Further, the WOSB will undergo an eligibility examination conducted by the SBA.

If a WOSB is selected for the project, they are required to perform a significant portion of the work on the project. For construction work, the WOSB must perform at least 15 percent of the contract with their own employees. For specialty construction contracts, the WOSB must perform 25 percent of the work. For more information on project requirements, please visit the SBA website.

Protests and Misrepresentation

Unfortunately, with the great opportunity for WOSBs to work on set aside government contracts, there is a prevalent issue of fraudulent contractors applying as a women-owned or minority-owned business in order to procure contracts. An “interested party” in the bidding process has the right to challenge the status of a WOSB. In the event that an ineligible company was improperly awarded a contract, there are various penalties that the fraudulent contractor could face including indefinite suspension from working with that federal agency or federal prosecution.

If you are eligible to work on WOSB federal contracting opportunities, contact a Houston construction law attorney. Our law firm can help you locate contracting opportunities and assist you with any of the bid process requirements.

If you would like to speak with one of our Houston construction law attorneys, please contact us today.

Disclaimer: The information contained in this article is for general educational information only. This information does not constitute legal advice, is not intended to constitute legal advice, nor should it be relied upon as legal advice for your specific factual pattern or situation.

In this four-part article, our Houston contractor attorneys are discussing how women-owned small businesses (WOSB) can procure projects through federal contracting opportunities. In the first section, we explained some of the disadvantages women-owned businesses have traditionally faced when bidding on government contracts. In the last section, we discussed opportunities for WOSBs to work on projects through the Small Business Administration (SBA). In this section, a Houston contractor attorney will explain how women-owned businesses can become certified.

How to Classify as a WOSB

In order to compete for federal contracts and be classified as a WOSB in an underrepresented field, your business must first be classified under the SBA requirements as a women-owned business. Here are the eligibility requirements in order to be considered a WOSB:

  • Women-Owned: The business must be owned and under operational control of at least 51 percent by one or more women. Further, these business owners must be U.S. citizens.
  • Management Control: The day-to-day management of the business and primary business decisions must be made by a woman or group of women.
  • Small Business: The business must be classified by the SBA as a small business. Business owners can visit the SBA website to see if they qualify for small business government contracts.

For businesses that are owned and operated by a woman or group of women, they can also meet eligibility requirements as an economically disadvantaged women-owned small business (EDWOSB), meaning that their personal assets do not exceed $6 million with a personal net worth of $750,000 or less. For more information on EDWOSB qualifications, you can visit this website.

How to Become Certified

To become eligible as a WOSB to procure government contracts, you need to be certified. First, WOSBs need to successfully register their business within the government’s System for Award Management (SAM) website. In order to achieve certification from here, you can either attain self-certification or third-party certification. Here is a little more information on each of these processes:

  • Self-Certification: Visit SBA.gov and upload all of the required documentation (including proof of U.S. citizenship, corporate documents, and limited liability company (LLC) information, among other critical documents). You can also become certified through a contracting officer on a project.
  • Third-Party Certification: WOSBs can also become certified by applying through an approved third-party organization. For example, the U.S. Women’s Chamber of Commerce is one certifying entity that can assist you with the application process.

For more information on federal contracting opportunities for WOSBs, please read section four.

If you would like to speak with one of our Houston contractor attorneys, please contact us today.

Disclaimer: The information contained in this article is for general educational information only. This information does not constitute legal advice, is not intended to constitute legal advice, nor should it be relied upon as legal advice for your specific factual pattern or situation.

As we discussed in the last section of this four-part article series, women-owned small businesses (WOSB) are only awarded approximately five percent of all government contracts awarded to businesses. In this section, our Houston construction lawyers will discuss the role of the Small Business Administration (SBA) and a recently amended law that could provide more opportunities for WOSBs to procure government contracts. If you are interested in seeking government contracts for your construction business, speak with a Houston construction lawyer today.

Amendment to the Small Business Act

The 2015 National Defense Authorization Act provided an amendment to the Small Business Act. This legislation looks to expand opportunities for WOSBs by restricting competition for federal contracts eligible under SBA certification. This act provides WOSBs with a chance to be awarded contracts in industries that are significantly underrepresented by their gender including the construction industry. This legislation also requires that contracting agencies submit annual reports that show the number of contracts being awarded to small businesses.

Industries That Classify as Underrepresented

For women-owned businesses to determine if they classify for federal contracting opportunities, they should visit SBA’s website that lists hundreds of types of businesses that are eligible under this program. Although these businesses span from construction to manufacturing to creative enterprises to a wide range of small business services, here are some qualified businesses that strictly provide construction services:

  • Highway, street, and bridge construction
  • Concrete production
  • Civil engineering construction
  • Framing, masonry, glass and glazing, roofing, and siding contractors
  • Plumbing and HVAC companies
  • Drywall and insulation, flooring, tiling, and carpentry services
  • Building equipment companies
  • Oil and gas pipeline installation and repair
  • Water and sewer line installation and repair
  • Industrial building
  • New housing contractors
  • Water and irrigation system installation and repair
  • Electrical and other wiring installation and repair

With hundreds of contracting and construction services available through this program, contact one of our Houston construction lawyers to learn more about procuring lucrative government contracts for construction projects.

For more information on federal contracting opportunities for WOSBs, please read sections three and four.

If you would like to speak with a Houston construction lawyer, please contact us today.

Disclaimer: The information contained in this article is for general educational information only. This information does not constitute legal advice, is not intended to constitute legal advice, nor should it be relied upon as legal advice for your specific factual pattern or situation.

Women-owned businesses only procure around five percent of all government contracts awarded for federal-funded projects. This figure needs to be improved. In this four-part article series, our Houston construction attorneys will discuss how women-owned businesses can become eligible to work on lucrative government contracts. Remember, at Cotney Law, a Houston construction attorney is here to assist you with any of your bid proposal needs.

Legislation to Promote Women-Owned Businesses

Nearly 20 years ago, Congress enacted the Small Business Reauthorization Act of 2000. Governed by the Small Business Administration (SBA), this amendment was designed to provide women-owned small businesses (WOSB) with an equal opportunity to engage in federal contracting opportunities and procure government contracts. When this legislation was established, the goal was to have small businesses awarded at least 23 percent of government contracts. The objective for WOSBs was to be awarded a minimum of five percent of these small business set-aside contracts.

Since the act was put into law, the number of contracts awarded to small businesses has steadily increased to over 26 percent; whereas, just recently in 2016 the goal for WOSBs narrowly reached its goal of five percent.

A Problematic System

Although it took nearly 20 years to reach the objective of five percent, there is a long list of reasons why women-owned businesses have not been granted more opportunities to work on lucrative government projects. This includes:

  • Government Incentives: There are no government incentives effectively put in place for WOSBs. There are also no penalties for agencies that overlook WOSBs.
  • Small Business Requirements: With many complexities in regard to small business regulations, WOSBs are often overlooked in favor of other qualified small businesses.
  • Ineffective Reporting System: Until recently, many federal agencies were not required to provide annual reports related to small business contracts, so agencies were not being monitored in regard to whom is awarded a contract.
  • Certification and Registry: Many small businesses fail to register with the System for Award Management. In addition, there is no federal government mentor program in place specifically for WOSBs.
  • Failure to Follow Solicitation Requirements: As we will discuss throughout this series, in some cases, the contracting officer fails to follow protocol and identify two or more WOSBs that placed a qualifying offer.

For more information on federal contracting opportunities for WOSBs, please read sections two, three and four.

If you would like to speak with a Houston construction attorney, please contact us today.

Disclaimer: The information contained in this article is for general educational information only. This information does not constitute legal advice, is not intended to constitute legal advice, nor should it be relied upon as legal advice for your specific factual pattern or situation.