First Month of Women Owned Small Business Set-Aside Program a Success
In January the GSA/Fed Marketing Blog reported on the U.S. Small Business Administration’s approval of a government contracting set-aside for Women-Owned Small Businesses (WOSBs). On October 7, 2010, the SBA published a final ruling to be effective on February 4, 2011. The ruling created contracting directives in specific industries designed to channel 5% of all Federal-contracting dollars towards WOSBs. For more information on this rule, please refer to the original post, “New Rule Sets Aside Billions for Women-Owned Small Business Contracts.” For an updated analysis of the program’s certification process, based on the first month of operations, please read on.
As you may recall, the WOSB set-aside program offers candidate firms two certification options: self-certification and Third-Party Certification. At the time our first report was published the SBA had not designated or approved any Third-Party certifiers. One month into operations and this has not changed. All participating firms have, therefore, self-certified.
While this might sound like a more intense, and prohibitive option, it has proven to be manageable and cost-effective. To self-certify, firms have been completing the following process:
1) Registering in Central Contractor Registration (CCR)
2) Logging into SBA’s General Login System (GLS) and uploading the proof of eligibility documents mentioned in our “Women Owned Small Business Self-Assessment Checklist” This step lists your firm in the WOSB Program Repository, which functions as the SBA’s means of tracking eligible firms.
3) Updating their status in Online Representations and Certifications (ORCA)
The SBA expects the first contracts produced by this program to be awarded by the fourth quarter of fiscal year 2011, so there is still time for your firm to get in on this contracting windfall. Since the largest percent of federal contracts are awarded in the fourth quarter of each fiscal year, there should still be significant contracting opportunities available.
The program allows contracting officers to set-aside certain contracts, worth up to $5 million dollars each, for WOSBs. After completing this process, success in government contracting, like is so often the case, still comes down to marketing. WOSBs must successfully market themselves to the contracting and procurement officers in charge of set-aside contracts.
In the month since the WOSB final ruling took affect, the SBA and GSA have continued training contracting officers and working the kinks out of this new system with the goal of smooth operations come July 1st. The full potential of this program will likely be witnessed then, as eligible firms market themselves for set-aside contracts in the 4th quarter. In the meantime, however, make sure you self-certify, if you haven’t already, since the 3rd party certifier option has yet to develop. Next, review your federal marketing techniques. Remember, the contracts are ‘reserved,’ but an officer cannot contract with a WOSB they are unaware of. So make sure to notify purchasers you have dealt with in the past of your new status, and create new opportunities by marketing both your product and your WOSB certification.
If you are new to the federal marketing process, our free eGuide titled “Marketing to the Federal Government” will help you get started. For the experienced federal contractor, our Government Marketing Events page will help you find federal contracting conferences, expos, and outreach sessions where you can implement your marketing skills. If you are able to attend any of these events, be sure to self-certify beforehand in order to maximize contracting officer interest levels.