The Small Business Administration (SBA) finally put an end to self-certifications for the Woman-Owned Small Business Program (WOSB). Starting now and continuing through October 15, 2020, federal contractors that want to perform future WOSB set-aside contracts must complete the certification process at www.certify.sba.gov.
Why Require Formal Certification?
The WOSB Program aims to award at least five percent of all federal contracting dollars to woman-owned small businesses each year (including exclusive set-aside contracts in under-represented industries). But recent studies show that those awards too often go to businesses that do not actually qualify as true WOSBs under the law (despite having self-certified as both woman-owned and small).
To address this issue, SBA is adding additional oversight through a mandatory certification process.
SBA says that:
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.
SBA will begin issuing decisions on certification applications on October 15. In the meantime, WOSB contractors can continue to rely on self-certifications.
Moving forward, the SBA will also continue allow WOSB certification through approved third-party vendors.
Important Contractor Considerations
It is important to remember that formal certification with the SBA is the last step for WOSBs – not the first.
Contractors must consider what it means to own and control a business in the eyes of the SBA.
You should also consider what it means to be small, and whether your business can take advantage of the Economically Disadvantaged WOSB Program (EDWOSB).
SBA’s regulations often present a moving target. Regular small business size-status checkups is the best way to stay in the game and avoid perilous claims of size status fraud.
Nick Solosky is a Partner in Fox Rothschild’s Government Contracts Practice Group. You can reach Nick directly at NSolosky@FoxRothschild.com or 202-696-1460.