Women-Owned Small Business Federal Contracting program
The federal government’s goal is to award at least five percent of all federal contracting dollars to women-owned small businesses each year.
Starting on July 15, 2020, the certification process for Women-Owned Small Businesses (WOSBs) and Economically Disadvantaged WOSBs (EDWOSBs) will begin to change as SBA implements Congress’ changes to the Women-Owned Small Business Federal Contracting Program (WOSB Federal Contracting Program), as put forth in the 2015 National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA).
These new regulations make it easier for qualified small businesses to participate in the WOSB Federal Contracting Program by improving the customer experience. At the same time, the SBA is strengthening oversight and maintaining the integrity of the certification process.
Once the new WOSB Federal Contracting Program regulations go into effect:
- SBA will provide a new, free online certification process for WOSBs and EDWOSBs.
- SBA will allow participation from firms certified by the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs Center of Verification and Evaluations, provided they meet all eligibility requirements.
- SBA will allow continued participation from businesses that utilize approved ThirdParty Certifiers (TPC) to obtain WOSB or EDWOSB certification.
- SBA will eliminate the current selfcertification option from certify.sba.gov, effective October 15, 2020.
WOSB Federal Contracting Program certification: Timeline changes
The timeline for implementation of changes to SBA’s WOSB Federal Contracting Program has been moved to July 2020 to accommodate those affected by the current pandemic. Below are important timelines for firms to keep in mind:
- The current selfcertification process will remain available for firms until October 15, 2020, in certify.sba.gov.
- Between now and July 15, 2020, certified 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 under the new certification process for initial processing.
- On October 15, 2020, SBA will begin issuing decisions on certification.
Further instructions for the new certification process will be detailed prior to July 15.
The new WOSB Federal Contracting Program regulations will make it easier and more efficient for contracting officers to set aside contracts for, and make awards to, firms certified as WOSBs and EDWOSBs.
The new WOSB Federal Contracting Program regulations were published in the Federal Register in May 2020. These regulations detail changes to the certification process.
Please review SBA’s latest FAQs and certification options table for more information about the certification changes. To stay up-to-date with changes to the WOSB Federal Contracting Program, please visit sba.gov/wosbready.
To help provide a level playing field for women business owners, the government limits competition for certain contracts to businesses that participate in the women’s contracting program.
These contracts are for industries where women-owned small businesses (WOSB) are underrepresented. Some contracts are restricted further to economically disadvantaged women-owned small businesses (EDWOSB). The SBA maintains a list of those eligible industries and their NAICS codes.
Joining the women’s contracting program makes a business eligible to compete for federal contracts set aside for the program. Firms can still compete for contract awards under other socio-economic programs they qualify for.
Women’s contracting program eligibility requirements
To be eligible for the women’s contracting program, a business must:
- Be a small business
- Be at least 51% owned and controlled by women who are U.S. citizens
- Have women manage day-to-day operations and also make long-term decisions
To qualify as an economically disadvantaged business within the women’s contracting program, a business must:
- Meet all the requirements of the women’s contracting program
- Be owned and controlled by one or more women, each with a personal net worth less than $750,000
- Be owned and controlled by one or more women, each with $350,000 or less in adjusted gross income averaged over the previous three years
- Be owned and controlled by one or more women, each $6 million or less in personal assets
The eligibility requirements to qualify as a WOSB or an EDWOSB are fully defined in Title 13 Part 127 Subpart B of the Code of Federal Regulations (CFR). Firms can also get a preliminary assessment of whether they qualify at the SBA’s Certify website.
Note: Effective July 15, 2020, personal net worth standards for economically disadvantaged individuals will be aligned between the 8(a) Business Development Program and the WOSB Federal Contracting Program. EDWOSBs and 8(a) Business Development Program participants will have the same personal net worth threshold, and funds invested in an official retirement account will be excluded from the assessment of an economically disadvantaged individual’s personal net worth in both programs.
Get certified as a women-owned small business
Note: Starting on July 15, 2020, the steps outlined above are going to change as the SBA will implement changes to the WOSB Federal Contracting Program to improve customer experience and strengthen oversight.
Before firms can compete for WOSB Federal Contracting Program set-aside contracts, they must be either self-certified or certified through an approved Third-Party Certifier (TPC). Both methods will require firms to use the certify.sba.gov website.
To apply, firms should:
- Establish a SAM.gov profile.
- Create a profile on certify.sba.gov.
- In certify.sba.gov, under the “programs” tab, select the program they wish to apply for. (Please note the WOSB and EDWOSB applications are treated as two separate applications.)
- Provide their information and complete the application.
- Update their SAM.gov profile to show contracting officers that their business is a certified WOSB.
Note: Effective October 15, 2020, the current self-certification option from certify.sba.gov will no longer be available. Firms will have to certify through either SBA’s new, free online certification process or through an approved Third-Party Certifier (TPC), at a cost.
Firms can self-certify directly at certify.SBA.gov by answering questions and uploading documents. The information they’ll need to provide will vary based on their business structure and whether they’re already participating in other SBA programs. Review the preparation checklist at the certify website.
There are four organizations approved by the SBA to provide third-party certification. Contact them to find out about their certification process and any associated costs. They are:
- El Paso Hispanic Chamber of Commerce
- National Women Business Owners Corporation
- US Women’s Chamber of Commerce
- Women’s Business Enterprise National Council
Firms will need to provide proof of their third-party certification through certify.sba.gov. Read the instructions carefully to make sure you provide all the necessary information.
The SBA also accepts a current, valid 8(a) certification. Firms must provide their 8(a) certification and annual review letters through certify.sba.gov.
Note: When the new WOSB Federal Contracting Program regulations go into effect, small businesses will still be able to utilize an approved Third-Party Certifier (TPC) to obtain WOSB or EDWOSB certification. Now through July 15, 2020, TPC certificates must still be uploaded into the WOSB Federal Contracting Program Repository at certify.sba.gov. Effective July 15, 2020, firms that are TPC-certified must create a new account in the new certification platform and upload their TPC certificate for SBA to complete initial processing.