SBA has significantly strengthened the Women-Owned Small Business (WOSB) and Economically Disadvantaged Women-Owned Small Business (EDWOSB) programs by requiring SBA or 3rd party certifications effective October 15, 2020.
Evidence has shown that “self-certification” in any set-aside program has the potential for extensive fraud, which consequently presents the possibility of diluting opportunities for those firms intended to receive the benefits. We will surely see a drop in the overall numbers of certified EDWOSB and WOSB firms as these regulations kick in by October 15, 2020. Similar effects occurred when the HubZone program transitioned from self-certification to SBA certification as almost 60% of firms did not transition to SBA certification standards.
The great news is that 5% of all Federal dollars are to be spent with WOSB’s. As a result, we will see the certified firms receiving many more opportunities than currently exist as they fill the void left from those firms unable to certify through SBA or 3rd party certifiers. In addition, the regulation spells out that if you are women owned and controlled under the Federal 8(a) program within the last 3 years, then when the certification process starts July 15, 2020, you are automatically EDWOSB certified and WOSB certified. All current WOSB IDIQ contracts in place may be affected as any contract held by a WOSB firm that is not able to obtain certification by October 15 will no longer be able to claim recognition of those dollars for WOSB mandated goals within contracting departments. This occurrence will likely prompt several agencies to be hesitant to exercise contract options if they receive no WOSB credit and may put those contracts back out on the street earlier than anticipated.
If you need to seek certification between July 15 and October 15, then you have two choices: SBA certification which has no associated costs or SBA certified 3rd party certification firms who will charge reasonable fees for their service. Start investigating now which route you may need to take as balancing processing time, opportunity loss, and burden of cost are all company specific deciding factors as to the route best suited for your business. The time is now to position your WOSB and EDWOSB for rapid growth in Federal contracts so be diligent and be Bold!