Contracting officials previously have been able to award sole-source contracts to small businesses owned by minorities or service-disabled veterans, or small companies located in low-income areas known as Hubzones. The new rule puts the government’s contracting set-aside program for women, which was passed by Congress in 2000 but not implemented until 2011, on par with these other procurement programs.
“This parity means women entrepreneurs face fewer barriers when entering the federal market,” said Kristie Arslan, executive director of Women Impacting Public Policy.
SBA Administrator Maria Contreras-Sweet called the new rule “a major step forward in leveling the playing field.”
“Women-owned businesses are growing three times faster than their counterparts, yet the federal government has not achieved its goal of awarding 5 percent of federal contracts to women,” she said.
“If we want a more diverse supply chain, Uncle Sam needs to lead by example.”
Last year, the federal government awarded 4.7 percent of its contracting dollars to women-owned businesses, up from 4.3 percent in 2013.