(Washington, D.C., May 1, 2010) — The National Association of Women Business Owners (NAWBO) attended a meeting at the White House today to discuss the proposed rules just released by the U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA) that would implement a long-delayed federal program designed to expand federal contracting opportunities for women-owned small businesses (WOSBs).
“While the regulatory process is not complete, and achievement of the 5% federal contracting goal established by Congress in 1994 remains to be accomplished, the publication of this rule represents a concrete and important step forward,” says Deborah Stallings, Secretary of the NAWBO Board of Directors who represented NAWBO at the meeting. “I was impressed and encouraged by the open forum the White House afforded us today to discuss the proposal, and by their active solicitation of our advice.”
“The women’s business community has been waiting more than a decade for this program to be fully implemented, during which time the gap between the 5% goal and contracts actually awarded has been $5 to $6 billion dollars annually,” says Helen Han, President and CEO of NAWBO. “For the first time, we actually are optimistic that women business owners are finally on their way to getting their fair share of federal contracting dollars, and NAWBO very much appreciates the leadership President Obama, SBA Administrator Karen Mills and the Director of the SBA Office of Women’s Business Ownership Ana Harvey have shown in moving this important program forward,” adds Han. “This program will aid in the further growth and development of women-owned businesses and enhance their ability to serve as a positive force in the country’s economic recovery, while affording the federal government new opportunities to buy goods and services at competitive prices.”
The rule proposed today by the SBA lists 83 industries in which WOSBs are under-represented or substantially under-represented among contractors doing business with the federal government. The rule proposed by the SBA in December 2007, which NAWBO criticized in comments it submitted asking that the rule be withdrawn, listed only four NAIC codes. In addition, the new rule removes a requirement, also criticized by NAWBO in 2007, that each federal agency make findings that it had engaged in discrimination against WOSBs before it could participate in the set-aside program.
Participating in the meeting with NAWBO were White House and other government officials, including Tina Tchen, Director of the White House Office of Public Engagement and Executive Director of the White House Council on Women and Girls. NAWBO was invited to attend the meeting because of its advocacy over the past 16 years in support of achieving the 5% federal contracting goal established by Congress in 1994 for women-owned businesses, and its strong support over the last decade of the women-owned small business set-aside program authorized by Congress in 2000.
NAWBO will be conducting a careful analysis of the SBA’s proposed rule, which you can read here, and submitting formal written comments. Any NAWBO member may, as a member of the public, submit comments up until close of business on May 3, 2010 to www.regulations.gov, or by mailing them to Dean Koppel, Assistant Director, Office of Policy and Research, Office of Government Contracting, U.S. Small Business Administration, 409 3rd St. SW, Washington, DC 20416. Please reference RIN 3245-AG06 when submitting comments.
Founded in 1975, NAWBO propels women entrepreneurs into economic, social and political spheres of power worldwide. More than 35 years later, NAWBO is still the only organization that solely represents the interest of women entrepreneurs in all industries. The organization's mission is to strengthen the wealth-creating capacity of its members and promote economic development; to create innovative and effective change in the business culture; to build strategic alliances, coalitions and affiliations; and to transform public policy and influence opinion makers. To learn more about NAWBO, visit www.nawbo.org.
NAWBO Media Relations
Christina Jorgensen (ext. 103)
Lauren Astor (ext. 115)
Phone: (818) 772-9555