DID YOU KNOW?… Federal Certification for Women-Owned Small Businesses (WOSBs)

Federal agencies have an annual goal to award at least 5% of spend on prime contracts to Women-Owned Small Businesses (WOSBs) and, for contracts which include small business subcontracting plans, the WOSB subcontracting goal is also 5%.  To help meet these goals, agencies will sometimes set-aside or even sole-source opportunities to WOSBs and Economically Disadvantaged Women-Owned Small Businesses (EDWOSBs).

In previous years, federal agencies were not required to verify a business’ status for the WOSB and EDWOSB socioeconomic programs, and could typically rely on a business’ self-representation appearing in their entity’s registration as seen in the System for Award Management (SAM.gov).  As of October 15, 2020, documentation supporting a business’ WOSB and/or EDWOSB status must be uploaded in the new beta.certify.sba.gov website, and either the Small Business Administration (SBA) or an SBA-approved third-party certifier must certify WOSB/EDWOSB status before a business is eligible for federal contracts set-aside or sole-sourced to either of these programs.  Since the changes went into effect, many federal agencies (military and civilian) have outlined requirements for federal Contracting Officers to verify a business’ certification before award, by viewing the business’ SBA Profile page.

What is an SBA Profile?  Small businesses have the option toward the end of the SAM.gov registration process to create or edit an SBA Profile page, which provides information about your business to federal buyers and end users, prime contractors, and others looking for you, via SBA’s Dynamic Small Business Search (DSBS) website.  If your business has created an SBA Profile, the page will contain an SBA Federal Certifications section.  If your business is not yet certified by SBA as a WOSB, your certifications section may look similar to the featured image (see the information circled in red):

If you have already submitted your WOSB or EDWOSB application through the new beta.certify.sba.gov website, you may eventually see a “Pending” status show up in the above section of your Profile.  Once you’re certified, the “Yes” box will be checked and a Certification Date will appear.  According to the new requirements being used by many federal agencies (linked to earlier in the article), agencies need to at least see a “Pending” status in your SBA Profile in order to consider you for a WOSB/EDWOSB set-aside or sole-source contract.

Our PTAC program has recently learned, while SBA’s goal is to try taking action on applications within 90 days of submission, SBA is currently backlogged with applications, and they are not meeting their 90-day goal at this time.

As of early July 2021, the SBA’s DSBS website indicated there were 300 women-owned small businesses in Iowa with Active federal registrations.  Of the 300 companies:

  • Only eight (2.7%) were certified in the WOSB program;
  • Four businesses (1.3%) were certified for the EDWOSB program.

While not every industry qualifies for the WOSB and EDWOSB programs, we in the CIRAS PTAC program believe there are several more women-owned small businesses in Iowa who are eligible for certification.  Do you need assistance with the certification process?  If so, please reach out to your PTAC Government Contracting Specialist!

More details about last year’s changes to the WOSB and EDWOSB socioeconomic programs can be found on the SBA website.

For more information, contact Justin Niceswanger at jnice@iastate.edu