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2017 – The State of WOSBs


Improvements in WOSB contracting

In light of some of the recent success of Women-Owned Small Businesses (WOSBs) in the federal contracting space, EZGovOpps has decided to take another look at other successes, opportunities, and challenges that lie ahead for WOSBs. Using data compiled by the EZGovOpps platform and federal sources, our analysts were able to put together a comprehensive picture of how far WOSBs have progressed in government procurement, and where there is room to grow.

The big milestone for WOSBs moving from 2015 into last year was, for the first time, the award of 5% of federal contracts to WOSBs. This was after over 20 years of federal efforts to meet the goal first set in 1994. While this is a huge step in the right direction, it is important to find out how exactly those contracts are being awarded, and where there may be shortfalls in the federal procurement strategy.

From 2014 to 2016, the time period where federal and non-government efforts to hit the 5% goal strengthened, procurement solicitations with WOSB set-aside requirements doubled in number:









Interestingly, 31,507 of registered WOSBs, which constitutes about 34%, are also Veteran-Owned.

This represents a large increase in WOSB-targeted opportunities, but it does not constitute all of the business for WOSBs. According to In 2016, a total of 447,599 contracts without WOSB set-asides were awarded to WOSBs, as a part of total $23,989,680,487 awarded to prime contractor WOSBs. These numbers require a balanced optimism. While federal procurement only allowed for 706 WOSB set-asides, women-owned small businesses were still able to compete for and win over 446,000 more contracts.

While that may represent a large number of contracts, a closer look at the number of WOSBs requires a similar balanced optimism. Of the 92,036 companies listed in as women-owned small businesses, only 21,063 have been awarded prime contracts. That means 77% of registered WOSBs have yet to win a prime contract.

The future of WOSB contracting

As many steps as the federal government has taken forward (in the 20 years since the 5% WOSB mandate), it has missed more opportunities to help WOSBs succeed in the contracting world. The Small Business Administration, acting on provisions first mandated in the National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) of 2013, made a final ruling on new subcontracting limitations intended to help small businesses. The SBA ruled that any subcontracting by a prime small business contractor to a “similarly situated entity,” a small business which meets the same standards, will not be limited by subcontracting work requirement percentages set out by the specific set-aside type. This means that prime-contractor WOSBs (again, only 23% of registered WOSBs), will have more room to subcontract to fellow women-owned small businesses. This may allow for more money to flow to WOSBs, and allow for new WOSBs to build more experience for future bids as prime contractors.

However, while the SBA was implementing new measures from a prior NDAA, Congress struck a section from the 2017 NDAA which would have continued forward momentum for WOSB programs. Under the House of Representatives’ NDAA passed in 2016, the Women’s Business Center program would have been allowed greater funding, larger grants, and increased SBA support for the program. The WBC program provides training, mentoring, business development and financing to women entrepreneurs. Unfortunately, the Senate ratified the 2017 NDAA without the WBC program section.Woman with clipboard on courthouse background

Another big NDAA impact on WOSBs: Women-owned businesses will soon no longer be allowed to self-certify for WOSB set-asides. The SBA is still evaluating how to implement this 2016 provision, and EZGovOpps analysts will be keeping a close eye on the SBA’s final decision.

As a current or prospective WOSB, use EZGovOpps for the tools and market intelligence needed to win WOSB contracts. You’ll have access to company and agency profiles, market forecasting, and custom alerts tailored to your WOSB NAICS codes and set-asides. Importantly, don’t forget to self-certify as a WOSB while that window is still open.

Don’t forget to view our full GovCon News section for more intel.

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