Women-Owned Small Businesses, rejoice!
The SBA issued a proposed rule that would give contracting officers the authority to award sole source contracts to Women-Owned Small Businesses (WOSB) and Economically Disadvantaged Women-Owned Small Businesses (EDWOSB). Sole source authority has previously been available for other small businesses development programs (such as the 8(a) program), but would constitute a new benefit of WOSB status.
The benefit, of course, is greater access to Federal contracting opportunities for WOSBs. Under this new authority, if an agency contracting officer cannot identify two or more WOSBs that can perform at a fair and reasonable price, it can simply sole source the contract to the WOSB that can perform the work (provided that the value of the contract, including options, does not exceed $6.5 million for manufacturing contracts and $4 million for all other contracts).
The sole source rules will also be subject to the same industry-by-industry limitations that currently govern WOSB set-aside contracts.
Given the speed with which the proposed rule transitioned from 2015 National Defense Authorization Act, it is likely that sole source WOSB contracts will be a reality before the end of the year. WOSB contractors should brush up on these regulations so that they are in a position to take advantage of new opportunities as soon as they arise.