Washington (PRESS RELEASE – March 7, 2010) — The U.S. Women’s Chamber of Commerce (USWCC) applauds President Obama, Administrator Mills and the U.S. Small Business Administration on their efforts to end the decade of delay in the implementation of the Women’s Federal Procurement Program through publishing in the Federal Registry today a strong new set of regulations to bring this important set-aside program to fruition. While there remain several important steps before the process is complete, the regulations published today show a strong grasp of the issue and a viable process to implement and sustain a strong women-owned small business federal contracting set-aside program.
In 2000, after years of underrepresentation in federal contracting, Congress passed the “Equity in Contracting for Women Act of 2000” to allow contracts, in industries historically underrepresented, to be reserved for competition by women-owned small businesses. The bipartisan bill was signed into law on December 21, 2000. The act established a procurement program which allows federal contracting officers to restrict competition for certain contracts to small businesses owned and controlled by women. The act required the SBA Administrator to conduct a study to identify the industries in which women owned firms are underrepresented and prepare appropriate regulations to implement the program.
After the Bush Administration stalled the implementation, and then SBA Administrator Hector Barreto told USWCC leaders, “This Administration has no intention of implementing that program,” the U.S. Women’s Chamber of Commerce brought suit against the SBA for failure to implement the laws of the United States. The Court found in favor of the USWCC even stating that the SBA, “…had sabotaged, whether intentional or not, the implementation of the procurement program…” and concluded that “a deadline is in order.” The SBA continued delay tactics throughout the remaining years of the Bush Administration.
“Federal contracting officers will finally have the tool they need to bring fair access to federal contracts for women-owned small businesses,” said Margot Dorfman, CEO of the U.S. Women’s Chamber of Commerce. “Opening the doors to opportunity will enable women-owned firms to grow their revenues, sustain their employees, create new job growth, and support our U.S. economy. I thank Administrator Mills for her strong leadership on this matter.”
The SBA has provided a sixty-day comment period on the new proposed regulations. Sometime after the comment period, the SBA should publish a final set of rules bringing an end to a decade of delay. The USWCC has provided a report detailing the industry codes included with the program at www.uswcc.org/wfpp .
“This comes at an important time in Women’s History Month as the USWCC is celebrating with the first annual National Women Contractors’ Week, March 16 – 18, 2010 (www.uswcc.org/nwcw ) including detailed agency spotlights of Health and Human Services and U.S. Army, awards and one-on-one meetings with dozens of federal agency representatives,” continued Dorfman. “We will include a detailed session on the Women’s Federal Procurement Program, certification and positioning to secure increased federal contracts.”
The U.S. Women’s Chamber of Commerce(TM) is the leading advocate for women on economic and leadership issues. The USWCC creates opportunities and change for women by building a strong community voice, advocating for members, and providing programs and benefits to support the economic growth of women across America. The USWCC is a not-for-profit 501(c)6 organization founded in 2001; its headquarters offices are located in Washington, D.C. Contact the USWCC at 888-418-7922.