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SBA Issues New Regulations for Women-Owned Small Business Federal Contracting Program

The U.S. Small Business Administration today published Women-Owned Small Business Federal Contracting program regulations that will provide a free, online certification and eligibility application process for women-owned small businesses and economically-disadvantaged women-owned small businesses. The timeline for implementation of changes to SBA’s WOSB program has been delayed to accommodate those affected by the current pandemic.   

Starting July 15, 2020, SBA will begin to implement changes consistent with the Small Business Act as amended in the National Defense Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2015. In addition to the certification requirement for firms seeking WOSB and EDWOSB set-aside contracts, the regulations detail certification options for applicants and require authorized third-party certifiers to notify applicants of their fees and the option to use SBA’s free online certification process. 

Below are some important timelines for firms to keep in mind:

  • The current self-certification process will remain available for firms until October 15, 2020,  in certify.sba.gov;
  • Between now and July 15, 2020, WOSBs must download their documentation, currently housed in the WOSB Program Repository, from certify.sba.gov;
  • On July 15, 2020, firms can begin submitting applications for initial processing; and
  • On October 15, 2020, SBA will begin issuing decisions on certification.

The regulations detail important changes to the certification process, including the following:

  • Allows participation from firms certified by the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs Center of Verification and Evaluations, provided they meet all eligibility requirements;
  • Confirms the continued participation of approved third-party certifiers; 
  • Eliminates the self-certification option from certify.sba.gov, effective October 15, 2020; and
  • Adopts a $750,000 net worth standard when assessing economic disadvantage for individuals in the 8(a) Business Development Program (8(a) Program). Additionally, funds invested in official retirement accounts are excluded from the analysis of an economically-disadvantaged individual’s personal net worth in both the WOSB and 8(a) Programs. This makes the economic disadvantage threshold and analysis consistent for EDWOSBs and 8(a) Program participants. 

The new WOSB Program regulations will make it easier and more efficient for contracting officers to set aside and make awards to firms certified as WOSBs and EDWOSBs and will better empower agencies to meet the 5% federal contracting goal for women-owned small businesses.  

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