And What A Year It Was by Ann Sullivan
Monday, December 7, 2015
Posted by: AnnaKate Moeller
And What A Year It Was
By Ann Sullivan, WIPP Government Relations
I know only people of a certain age say the year flew by, but that was certainly the case with 2015. Fresh off the heels of securing the passage of sole source authority for the WOSB procurement program, this was the year of “implementation.” Below is a list of significant WIPP policy achievements that reaffirmed women really are at the decision-making table.
1. SBA Moves Sole Source Authority for the WOSB Program Through the Rule-making Process. I say this with the utmost respect for SBA because the Administrator and her team managed to move the proposed rule to final rule in nine months. That involved drafting the rule, circulating it for comments government-wide and publishing the final rule.
2. Senate Small Business Committee Agrees to Nearly Double the Counseling and Training Services Available to Women. Women’s Business Centers (WBCs) are devoted to assisting women who want to own a business or need assistance to grow their business, especially for women residing in underserved areas. WBCs are funded by SBA, but require matching funds from other sources. Just one hundred and eight Centers cannot possibly serve the 10 million women entrepreneurs in the US without many more resources. The Senate Committee leaned in to right this inequity. A companion bill was introduced in the House.
3. Federal Procurement Changes Contained in NDAA Make a Big Difference.
Access to federal contracts has plagued women business owners for decades. Part of the campaign to increase contracts available to women involves policy changes, since federal contracting is driven by agency rules, many of which originate on Capitol Hill. In the past three years, the NDAA has been the legislative vehicle for many improvements to small business contracting rules and this year was no different. As a result of WIPP’s advocacy, the government will now accept past performances of businesses that make up a joint venture. Additionally, the SBA will update their annual scorecard to include the number of women-owned small businesses receiving prime and subcontracting awards.
4. Access to Capital Platform Gets Traction. Stung by the revelation of the Senate Small Business Committee that only 4% of all commercial loan dollars go to women, WIPP decided to take on the access to capital challenge. Looking for policy changes which impact freeing up capital to women, WIPP launched its platform. The platform’s release focused discussions on Capitol Hill and led to examination of how SBA programs could better serve women. One recommendation was already implemented in 2015, notably the call for finalizing crowdfunding rules.
5. Appropriators Prioritize Resources Aimed at Women Entrepreneurs. Appropriators, especially those in the House, seem to understand the need to ensure that women’s entrepreneurship programs are properly funded. The House increased funding for the Women’s Business Center program to $17 million from $15 million. Also, SBA’s Microloan program, a primary capital resource for women-owned businesses, was expanded to support lending of $35 million.
6. WIPP’s Voice Heard in Hearings and Comments. In both Congressional testimony and Agency comments, WIPP made sure the voice of women entrepreneurs was heard. WIPP members Anne Crossman and Amber Peebles testified before the House Small Business Committee on challenges facing small contractors and SBA Rulemaking respectively. On the regulatory front, WIPP has submitted comments to the SBA, Department of Labor (DOL), Federal Acquisition Regulatory (FAR) Council on issues ranging from overtime pay, to safety reporting requirements for federal contractors.
WIPP’s advocacy throughout 2015 – a year of implementation- has yielded terrific results for women entrepreneurs. Improvements in procurement, capital access and entrepreneurial resources are key components not only of 2015, but in 2016. Our strong advocacy is never over. There is much work to be done. Thank you to all of WIPP’s members, corporate sponsors and coalition partners who support us. The biggest thank you goes to our team. Legislative and regulatory achievements would not be possible without their efforts.