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.
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.