On September 14, 2015, the Small Business Administration (SBA) published a Final Rule which implements the provisions of the 2015 National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) that authorize sole-source contracts for Women-Owned Small Businesses (WOSB) and Economically Disadvantaged Women-Owned Small Businesses (EDWOSB). The Final Rule takes effect on October 14, 2015.
To be clear, sole-source contracts are only allowed in industries in which set-asides for WOSB/EDWOSB have been authorized - i.e., those industries which the SBA has determined that WOSB/EDWOSB are substantially underrepresented. Currently there are 133 WOSB NAICS codes and 197 EDWOSB NAICS codes. In addition, sole-source contracts may only be awarded to a WOSB/EDWOSB if the Contracting Officer determines that:
- The WOSB/EDWOSB is a responsible contractor with respect to performance of the requirement and the contracting officer does not have a reasonable expectation that 2 or more WOSB/EDWOSBs will submit offers;
- The anticipated award price of the contract (including options) will not exceed $6.5 Million for manufacturing and $4.0 Million for all other contracts; and
- In the estimation of the contracting officer, the award can be made at a fair and reasonable price.
Currently, there is no formal certification process for the WOSB program. Rather, businesses certify through self-certification or by utilizing an SBA-approved Third Party Certifier (currently there are 4 approved certifers). However, in authorizing sole-source contracts for WOSB/EDWOSB, the 2015 NDAA also eliminated self-certification. In issuing the Proposed Rule and more recently the Final Rule, the SBA stated that they proceeded with the rulemaking for sole-source contracts because they did not want to delay its implementation in order to combine with it with a formal certification process. At this point it is unclear whether existing WOSB/EDWOSB will have to go through the new certification process, although it is likely they will. Thus, WOSB/EDWOSB should be on notice that such a formal certification process is forthcoming.
If you have any questions about eligibility for WOSB/EDWOSB or sole-source contracting, please contact us at (808) 369-9710 or firstname.lastname@example.org.