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SBA Seeks Comments on Proposed Certification Rule for Women-Owned Small Businesses

By on May 29, 2019

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Aims to ‘provide contracting officers with reassurance’ and ‘set aside contracts,’ regional administrator says

SAN JUAN – The U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA) is seeking public comments on a proposed rule that will provide a free online application process for women-owned small businesses to be certified and eligible to participate in the SBA’s Women-Owned Small Business (WOSB) Program or to gain access to contracts as a WOSB or Economically Disadvantaged Women-Owned Small Business (EDWOSB).

According to a release, SBA Region II Regional Administrator Steve Bulger, who oversees the agency’s programs and services for New Jersey, New York, Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands, the following proposals included in the new rule will:

• Allow participation from an expanded list of federal and state entities with existing certification programs, and confirm the continued participation of approved third-party certifiers.

• Eliminate the self-certification option consistent with the Small Business Act as amended within the National Defense Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2015, Public Law 113-291, and require approved third-party certifiers to notify applicants of its fees and the option to use SBA’s free online certification process.

• Adopt a $750,000 net worth standard when assessing economic disadvantage for EDWOSBs and continuing eligibility for the 8(a) Business Development Program.

Bulger also said the proposed rule will help to “bolster the number of federal contract awards to WOSB and EDWOSB-certified businesses and better empower agencies to meet the 5% federal contracting goal for women-owned small businesses” throughout the region.

Under the current system, the SBA explained, contracting officers must review a contract awardee’s documentation to verify an applicant’s WOSB and EDWOSB eligibility.

“By establishing a transparent, centralized, and free certification process, SBA aims to provide contracting officers with reassurance that firms participating in the WOSB Program are eligible for awards and encourage them to set aside contracts for women-owned small businesses,” Bulger said.

The SBA is seeking public comments on the proposed rule by July 15. To review the proposed rule, click here. At the top of the page look for the green box that reads Submit a Formal Comment.

“It is important for women-owned small businesses and women business associations, chambers of commerce and business policy and advocacy groups to review this proposal and submit their comments,” Bulger said. “The feedback we receive from them will be helpful to us in preparing a final rule.

The proposed rule may also be found here.

To learn more about how the SBA supports women entrepreneurs, visit

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