On September 14, 2015, the Small Business Administration (SBA) published a final rule in the Federal Register to allow women-owned small businesses (WOSBs) and economically disadvantaged women-owned small businesses (EDWOSBs) to be eligible to receive sole-source awards under the WOSB program set forth in the Code of Federal Regulations (13 C.F.R. § 27.101). These changes are mandated by § 825 of the 2015 National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA). The new rule becomes effective on October 14, 2015.
Currently, contracting officers can only restrict competition to WOSB and EDWOSB firms in industries that are underrepresented or substantially underrepresented in Federal government contracting. In other words, contracting officers may set aside a procurement for competition among WOSB or EDWOSB firms, but cannot award a sole-source contract under the program. Adopted pursuant to the NDAA, the new rule permits contracting officers to award sole-source contracts under the WOSB program if the contracting officer cannot identify two or more WOSBs or two or more EDWOSBs, but can identify one WOSB or one EDWOSB that can perform the work at a fair and reasonable price.
Some underrepresented WOSBs are trucking, warehousing, storage, and equipment rental and leasing businesses. Some substantially underrepresented WOSBs are construction, textile, and forging businesses. A list can be found at the SBA website.
This rule may apply to contracts with values up to $6.5 million in the case of manufacturing contracts and up to $4 million in the case of non-manufacturing contracts.
The new rule is consistent with the trend of expanding the WOSB program that has been happening for the past several years.
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