Last year, the SBA advised it had some changes in the works for the Woman-Owned Small Business (WOSB) and the Economically-Disadvantaged Woman-Owned Small Business (EDWOSB) certification programs. Those changes, which are outlined below, now are slated to go into effect on July 15. While you will technically be able to self-certify until October 15, it’s never too early to get prepared for the changeover.
The main focus of the changes centers around the actual certification process necessary for WOSB/EDWOSB set-aside contracts. Currently, you can self-certify in an SBA certification portal, or you can hire a third party to do the certification on your behalf and share the results with the SBA. While the third-party option is not changing (you currently have four different options for a fee, including the National Women’s Business Owners Corporation, Women’s Enterprise National Council, the U.S. Women’s Chamber of Commerce, and the El Paso Hispanic Chamber of Commerce), the self-certification option is indeed changing. From now on, the SBA itself will be the entity approving each of the WOSB/EDWOSB self-certification applications at no cost.
This can affect WOSBs in a few ways:
1) If you’re currently self-certified and actively working under a WOSB set-aside contract, the SBA says everything is fine as long as the contract is short-term. If you’re certified at the time of the contract, that designation as WOSB/EDWOSB lasts for the life of the contract – unless the contract is more than five years in duration. If that’s the case, you will need to re-certify with one of the options stated above.
2) If you have gone through the self-certification process before but are not currently working under a set-aside WOSB/EDWOSB contract, you will need to re-certify per the options above.
3) If you originally went through a third party for certification, you will have to re-certify within three years of your most recent date of certification using one of the options outlined above.
4) Finally, if you have gotten different designation statuses through different programs, such as the Disadvantaged Business Enterprise (DBE) program through the Department of Transportation, or went through the Department of Veteran’s Affairs Center for Verification and Evaluation (CVE), you’re in luck! Those programs and certifications are now considered to be equivalent to the WOSB/EDWOSB certification programs.
The SBA is recommending you do the following now if you are a WOSB/EDWOSB:
- Between now and July 15, WOSBs should download their current documentation from the WOSB program repository at certify.sba.gov.
- Starting July 15, companies can begin submitting applications to certify through the SBA.
- On October 15, the SBA will begin issuing decisions on certification to firms who resubmit.
Stay tuned, as more details will come out later in the summer of 2020.
In the meantime, if you have additional questions, visit this FAQ site or here for updated SBA WOSB program news. Your regional CIRAS PTAC government contracting specialist also is ready to help you with anything you need.