Updated March 29 at 12:28am

SBA to lift gender limits on contracts


WASHINGTON - Women-owned small businesses applying for government contracts will no longer face award limits, the U.S. Small Business Administration announced Thursday.

Women-owned small businesses, or WOSBs, were federally limited to $6.5 million for manufacturing contracts and $4 million on all others government work. The passing of the National Defense Authorization Act of 2013 eliminated this genderized rule, which was part of the administration’s WOSB Federal Contract Program. WOSBs by SBA definition vary by service-type and income.

In order to meet this diversity goal, the SBA is encouraging contract officers to review the North American Industry Classification Systems codes where women-owned small businesses are “underrepresented or substantially underrepresented,” and set aside jobs with the “reasonable expectation” that two or more women-owned companies will apply.

“This new law is a prime example of how the Obama Administration is embracing a more inclusive view of entrepreneurship, helping small businesses and America succeed,” said SBA Administrator Karen Gordon Mills in prepared remarks. An important step -- ownership has diversified where now women control one in every three small businesses, said Mills.

“As one of the fastest growing sectors of small business owners in the country, opening the door for women to compete for more federal contracts is a win-win,” Mills added.

The SBA has committed to increasing women-owned small business representation in government-contracted work to 5 percent, and has applied the regulatory changes to “economically disadvantaged” women-owned small businesses as well. Eligibility in the WOSB contract program includes meeting a 51 percent women ownership or control minimum, and U.S. citizenship. Holding companies that control small businesses owned by women are not eligible.


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