SENATORS URGE SMALL BUSINESS ADMINISTRATION TO EXPEDITE IMPLEMENTATION OF WOMEN’S SMALL BUSINESS PROCUREMENT PARITY ACT

Provision promoting small business entrepreneurship included in FY2015 National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA)

February 26, 2015

(Washington, DC) – U.S. Senators Jeanne Shaheen (D-NH), Maria Cantwell (D-WA), Kirsten Gillibrand (D-NY), Ben Cardin (D-MD), Angus King (I-ME), Sherrod Brown (D-OH), Tammy Baldwin (D-WI) and Richard Blumenthal (D-CT) are urging the U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA) to expedite regulations to implement provisions of the Women’s Small Business Procurement Parity Act that were included in the FY2015 National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA). In a letter yesterday to SBA Administrator Maria Contreras-Sweet, the Senators expressed their strong support for eliminating barriers that prevent federal agencies from awarding more contracts to women-owned small businesses (WOSB).

“The inclusion of the Women’s Small Business Procurement Parity Act in last year’s NDAA is a big win for women-owned small businesses and our economy,” Senator Shaheen said. “The SBA should move quickly because removing this barrier to federal contracts will encourage more small business ownership by women and economic growth in New Hampshire and across the country.”

“We introduced this legislation to help women entrepreneurs across the country break a glass ceiling,” Senator Cantwell said. “There are 8 million women-owned businesses in the United States and they only get 4 percent of federal contracts – never reaching the government’s goal of 5 percent. It’s time to ensure they get a fair shot with implementation of this law.”

“Small businesses drive our economy and create the jobs that will grow our middle class,” Senator Gillibrand said. “Women are increasingly becoming the sole family breadwinner, and with more dual income households than ever before, when women get shortchanged on access to the tools and opportunities needed to grow their businesses the whole middle class gets held back. Now that Congress has acted, the Small Business Administration should move quickly to implement the changes so that more women-owned businesses can thrive, grow our economy and create new jobs.”     

“The federal government should be providing women owned small businesses every opportunity to fairly compete for contracts,” said Senator Cardin, Ranking Member of the Small Business and Entrepreneurship Committee. “Every day, these entrepreneurs and their growing ranks of employees are proving their expertise and helping government innovate and serve the American public more efficiently.”

“Congress rightly acted to give women-owned small businesses increased opportunities within the federal contracting process, and now it’s time for the Small Business Administration to implement those changes without delay,” Senator King said. “The SBA supported the changes, and I’m hopeful that they will act quickly to put them into effect.”

“Small business owners play a huge role in creating jobs and growing our economy, so it’s important that we do all we can to assist them. This should include leveling the playing field for women-owned small businesses across the county,” said Senator Brown. “It’s time to award more federal contacts to women-owned small businesses to give them the same growth opportunities as other businesses in their hometowns.”

“Our economy desperately needs to grow more small business start-ups,” said Senator Baldwin. “The Small Business Administration must now do their part to ensure these provisions help invest in job creation, support our American entrepreneurial spirit, and strengthen the economic security of women and their families.”

“I was pleased to join my colleagues in supporting the NDAA provision, which will make significant strides in leveling the playing field for women business owners,” Senator Blumenthal said. “I hope that the Small Business Administration will take swift steps to see that this goal becomes a reality as quickly as possible, remedying discriminatory disparities and disadvantages that have no place in a modern military or business environment.”

Although women make up more than half of the U.S. population, only about 30 percent of businesses are owned by women in the United States. The provision included in the FY2015 NDAA would support additional contracting for WOSBs by removing the sole-source authority restriction on the WOSB procurement program to give it parity with other small business federal contracting programs. This would help the federal government meet the 5 percent WOSBs contracting goal that lawmakers set two decades ago.

The full text of the letter is available here and below:

February 25, 2015

The Honorable Maria Contreras-Sweet

Administrator

U.S. Small Business Administration

409 3rd Street SW, Suite 7000

Washington, DC 20416

Dear Administrator Contreras-Sweet,

Last Congress, we introduced the Women’s Small Business Procurement Parity Act to provide a level playing field for women business owners competing for federal contracts.  We thank you for your support for this proposal and your help including a nearly identical provision in the National Defense Authorization Act of 2015 that became law.  Today, we write to urge you to swiftly promulgate regulations to implement this provision so that additional opportunities for women-owned small businesses (WOSBs) can be made available across the country.

As you know, WOSBs make up nearly 30 percent of all firms but continue to struggle in the federal contracting environment.  Despite efforts by the SBA to increase WOSB contracting, the federal government has yet to meet its goal of awarding five percent of federal contracts to WOSBs.  The provision we included in the NDAA eliminates one of the main barriers that prevented federal agencies from achieving that goal. By allowing contracting officers at federal agencies to award sole-source contracts to WOSBs, the provision puts WOSBs on the same playing field as other small business contracting programs.

We believe that sole-source authority has the potential to significantly increase WOSB contracting if implemented quickly. At a Senate Small Business Committee hearing last year, women business owners testified that providing sole-source parity would be an important way for WOSBs to demonstrate their products and services for federal agencies. In addition, prior experience suggests that changes to the program can have a significant impact.  When the SBA quickly implemented a statutory change removing caps on award sizes in 2013, the amount of dollars awarded through the WOSB program tripled.

We thank you for your leadership on this issue and your attention to this matter. Please let us know if we can be helpful to you as you implement this important reform.

Sincerely,

Jeanne Shaheen

United States Senator


 Kirsten Gillibrand

United States Senator


Maria Cantwell

United States Senator

Ben Cardin

United States Senator


Angus King

United States Senator

Sherrod Brown

United States Senator


Tammy Baldwin

United States Senator


Richard Blumenthal

United States Senator

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