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SBA's New Federal Contract Program for Women - Part 1

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Expert: Michele Chang
SBA's New Federal Contract Program for Women - Part 1

Michele Chang

Senior Advisor, Office of Government Contracting and Business Development

Thursday, March 31, 2011 5:00 PM

Michele Chang is a senior advisor in the Office of Government Contracting and Business Development at the U.S. Small Business Administration. She works closely with Joseph Jordan, the associate administrator of Government Contracting and Business Development, to support thousands of small businesses every year as they compete for over $500 billion in federal prime contracts.

Before joining the SBA, Chang was an engagement manager with McKinsey & Company, a global management consulting firm. She specialized in developing marketing and merchandising strategies for Fortune 500 clients in the retail and consumer products industries.
Chang also worked in the firm’s public sector practice, where she helped reshape the strategy of a charter school organization and worked on Chicago’s bid to host the 2016 Olympics Games. Chang previously worked as a consultant at PricewaterhouseCoopers in San Francisco.

Chang has a bachelor’s degree from the University of California, Los Angeles in Mathematics/Applied Sciences. She also has an M.B.A from the University of Chicago Booth School of Business.

Are you a woman business owner seeking federal contracts? Celebrate Women’s History Month and visit http://go.usa.gov/4BV to get information about the SBA’s new Women-Owned Small Business (WOSB) Federal Contract program.

The WOSB Federal Contract Program will provide greater access to federal contracting opportunities for WOSBs and economically-disadvantaged women-owned small businesses (EDWOSBs).
For the first time, contracting officers at federal agencies will be allowed to set aside contracts for certified WOSBs and EDWOSBs and will help federal agencies achieve the existing statutory goal of five percent of federal contracting dollars being awarded to WOSBs.
 
Federal contracts can provide women-owned small businesses with the oxygen they need to take their business to the next level. Chat participants can get valuable information on how to gain access to government contracting opportunities, and the benefit to women entrepreneurs in getting their fair share of contracting opportunities.
 
Note:  There is not an audio format for the online chat, and no broadcast capability.  SBA moderators retain editorial control over the online discussions and choose the most relevant questions for chat participants and hosts. Chat hosts may decline to answer questions.

Chat Transcript

 
From:
April E. Simons
Location:
Washington, DC
 

Apologies everyone for the delay in responding to questions.  We are experiencing some technical issues responding to your questions.  We are working to get this resolved ASAP!  Thanks for your patience.

 
From:
April E. Simons
Location:
Washington, DC
 
Question:
What are the specific requirements necessary to qualify for and get a WOSB Federal Contract as a woman business owner?
Reply:
The requirements for the WOSB program are outlined on www.sba.gov/wosb. Here is an overview: To be eligible, a firm must be at least 51% owned and controlled by one or more women, and primarily managed by one or more women. The women must be U.S. citizens. The firm must be “small” in its primary industry in accordance with SBA’s size standards for that industry. In order for a WOSB to be deemed “economically disadvantaged,” its owners must demonstrate economic disadvantage in accordance with the requirements set forth in the final rule.
 
From:
Roxanne K. Mutchler
Location:
Utica, NY
 
Question:
When will the Third Party Certifier List be posted?
Reply:
We are currently in the process of reviewing the applications to be a Third Party Certifier and are hoping to announce the approved Third Party Certifiers within the next few months. Please note that no Third Parties have been approved to date. We have noticed that businesses are submitted a third party certification in the repository and unfortunately, at this time, that will not suffice as certification since no third party has been approved yet.
 
From:
Donna Keith
Location:
Magnolia, AR
 
Question:
When can we expect changes to the FAR to incorporate the WOSB ruling? Our request for a WOSB set aside was declined by a Contracting Officer stating the following.
Reply:
The WOSB rule is expected to be published in the FAR in early April. We expect that contracts for this program will be awarded in the fourth quarter, which is historically when the majority of small business contracts are awarded.
 
From:
Barbara Jones
Location:
Burleson, Texas
 
Question:
I understand there will not be any sole source contracts. What will happen if there is only my company interested and qualified to perform a WOSB contract with the government ?
Reply:
Yes – there is no sole source authority for this program. The “Rule of 2” must apply for a contract to be set-aside for this program, which means the contracting officer must have reasonable expectation that 2 or more women-owned small businesses will submit an offer or else it cannot be set-aside.
 
From:
Jan Buckner Walker
Location:
Chicago, IL
 
Question:
What is the best way to achieve a live conversation with a contact at the contracting entity so as to best understand whether my business' products or services are in fact a fit for a particular contract? Thank you.
Reply:
Your best entry point at an agency is the Office of Small and Disadvantaged Business Utilization (OSDBU). This office is the small business advocate at each agency and will help you determine the right path for small business procurement at that agency. To find the contact in these offices at each agency, visit: osdbu.gov
 
From:
Tom Linnertz
Location:
Fargo, North Dakota
 
Question:
We have reviewed the WOSB and EWOSB application form SBA Forms 2413 & 2414 resp. We have found the wording of the yes/no questions to be overly hard to understand for Yes/No questions. Is there consideration being being given to reword these questions into a more user friendly format?
Reply:
Thank you for the feedback. Unfortunately, to change the language on the form will take significant time as it will need to be cleared through SBA as well as OMB. Our suggestion is that you answer them as best as possible and if you needed, you may clarify your response in the explanation section.
 
From:
sherlyn johnson
Location:
dothan, alabama
 
Question:
When you are a black business as well as a women owned business, is there a greater advantage in obtaining government contracts?
Reply:
As an eligible women-owned small business, you can participate in the WOSB program, which enables you to compete for contracts set-aside only for WOSBs. If you are an economically and socially disadvantaged small business, you may be able to qualify for the 8(a) Business Development program. Visit this site for more information about the 8(a) program: http://www.sba.gov/content/8a-business-development
 
From:
Cosmopolitan Chamber of Commerce
Location:
Chicago, Ill
 
Question:
Has the deadline passed for submitting applications for becoming a
Reply:
The first deadline to become a Third Party Certifier was March 1. However, we will be accepting applications again and the deadline will be in September. Please continue to visit our website at www.sba.gov/wosb for more details.
 
From:
Network Financial Group,LLC
Location:
Denver, Colorado
 
Question:
Are there specific Naics codes that this program is targeting or does this apply to any Woman owned buisess that qualifies for the WOSB?
Reply:
Over 300 six-digit NAICS codes are eligible for the WOSB program. Please visit www.sba.gov/wosb for a list of these NAICS codes.
 
From:
Cassandra Malone
Location:
Flowood, MS
 
Question:
Mrs. Chang, I am inquring about how to get a grant to become a supplier of green technology. Please Assist!!!
Reply:
Please note that the WOSB Federal Contract Program is not a grant program. It is a federal contract program, which means it is designed to increase opportunities for women-owned small businesses to do business with the federal government. However, SBA does offer grants for small businesses. Please visit www.sba.gov for more info.
 
From:
Mary
Location:
Alexandria, VA
 
Question:
An owner of a women-owned small business is over age 65 and has income from her business. She is reserving her IRA for use during retirement - perhaps age 70. Do these retirement accounts count towards her net worth? She could annuitize the balances for a lifetime income and avoid having the asset count towards her net worth.
Reply:
Detailed information about how to determine the net worth for this program can be found at www.sba.gov/wosb. You can find information in the Compliance Guide (under “WOSB Program Information”) or under the “Getting Started” section, there is a link on the word “here” that will take you to a presentation that outlines these requirements.
 
From:
Beth Smith
Location:
Gladwin, Michigan
 
Question:
How secure is the repository for WOSB self-certification? Who will have access to our information in the repository?
Reply:
The security and confidentiality of the documents submitted to the WOSB Repository is one of our top priorities. To that end, the only people that will have access to your documents in the Repository are you, a very limited number of people at SBA (for review and audit purposes) and only contracting officers that you have authorized access. If you do not authorize a specific contracting officer access to your documents, they will not be able to see them. When you authorize them access, they will only be able to see your documents for a 120-day period.
 
From:
Ashley Eddy
Location:
Milan, Missouri
 
Question:
How soon will the necessary forms for enrollment in the EDWOSB be available on-line? I am very interested in this program and I have been on the SBA's website but unable to complete a form and unable to find the information on exactly what additional info is required to accompany the enlistment form.
Reply:
These forms are available now at www.sba.gov/wosb
 
From:
maria konoff
Location:
toledo, ohio
 
Question:
Does a company have to be certified through WBE (Women's Business Enterprise) program to be promoted for these Federal opportunities?
Reply:
No. To participate in this program, you must either (1) Self-Certify with supporting documents or (2) Obtain certification from an SBA-approved Third Party Certifier. Please note that at this time, SBA has NOT approved any third party certifiers, so any third party certifications are not yet valid. We will be announcing the approved third parties in the coming months.
 
From:
KH
Location:
,
 
Question:
Is the chat
Reply:
Apologies everyone! We had some technical difficulties when the chat first started at 1pm. We are on now and answering questions! Keep them coming.
 
From:
Tova
Location:
Miami, Florida
 
Question:
Hello Michele, I am trying to self certify my company as WOSB. I registered in the CCR and ORCA as a Women owned business, filled out the WOSB appplication, and uploaded all neccessary forms on the GLS site. I am stuck on the authorization page and can not complete the process. any suggestions? Thanking you in advance.
Reply:
The "Authorize" page is when you want to grant access to a contracting officer to view your uploaded documents. You should only grant a contracting officer access to your documents when you are bidding on a contract. Since the rule will not be effective until it is published in the FAR in April, you do not need to authorize access until you bid on a contract set-aside for this program.
 
From:
Susie Haardt
Location:
McLean, VA
 
Question:
Are agencies teeing up any opportunities designated as WOSB set asides?
Reply:
Yes, we have been in contact with our agency colleagues and have heard many of them are teeing up opportunities.
 
From:
Beth Hoff Blackmer
Location:
Aspen, CO
 
Question:
Good morning, I have sent an application into the State of Colorado at this time. Can I also apply for WOSB at the same time?
Reply:
Yes. This is a Federal Contracting program, not a state contracting program. So if you'd like to participate in this program, you will need to certify for this one under this program's requirements.
 
From:
Roxanne K. Mutchler
Location:
Utica, NY
 
Question:
Can a business upload documentation to the respository in anticipation of future solicitations? Or do they need to wait until they are responding to a specific solicitation?
Reply:
YES! We definitely encourage firms to upload their documents now so that when the contracts are set-aside for this program, you are all set to go.
 
From:
Lany
Location:
Flora Vista, NM
 
Question:
Is there a significant advantage to becoming certified as an EDWOSB rather than a WOSB?
Reply:
As a EDWOSB, there are more industries that are eligible for this program. Go to www.sba.gov/wosb to read more, as well as see a list of industries.
 
From:
barbara
Location:
jacksonville, fl
 
Question:
can i self certify and not use the third party certifiers when they are established; why does anyone need to consider third party certifiers?
Reply:
By statute, you can either self-certify or receive third-party certification. There is no preference for doing one or the other. Self-certification is a free, no cost way to participate in the program.
 
From:
Jennifer Cleary
Location:
Columbus, Ohio
 
Question:
Hi - We are already registered in the CCR and we would like to self certify, is the SBA's repository established so that we may do so and if yes where would I locate that repository? Thank you - Jennifer Cleary Judith Politi Interior Design jcleary@jpid.net
Reply:
YES - the repository has been available since Feb. 4. Go to www.sba.gov/wosb to see how to get to the repository.
 
From:
Mary Kirkpatrick
Location:
Crofton, Maryland
 
Question:
When will FedBizOpps create a Set-Aside for WOSB? You still cannot sort or search WOSB set-aside opportunities.
Reply:
We are expecting this to be completed in early April...very soon!
 
From:
Raine Coate
Location:
Chicago, IL
 
Question:
Exactly where can I find all of the info needed to self certify? Do you have a link?
Reply:
Yes - www.sba.gov/wosb
 
From:
Jay Hillmer
Location:
Fredericksurg, Virginia
 
Question:
Hello Michele, I am working with my wife, Linda. We are a SWOB and HUBzone company. We are considering the EDSWOB program and before we put alot of effort into it I would like to know more about the financial requirements. My wife is 100% owner so I believe we can split our income and assets for the company to qualify. I am hearing different rules when I ask the questions from consultants and local SBA reps. Who is the go to person at SBA i can discuss this with? I would like to come by the SBA HQ to talk with someone.
Reply:
Hi Jay! Thanks for your question. All the information you are looking for is on our website at www.sba.gov/wosb. Be sure to read the Compliance Guide under the "WOSB Program Information" section. Also - at the bottom of that site, you will see the best resources to walk you through the process: the District Offices, SBDC, WBCs and PTACs.
 
From:
Pam
Location:
Watertown, ny
 
Question:
Are we notified that the WOSB certification is accepted if we do self certify?
Reply:
Hi Pam - thanks for your question. Since this is a self-certification program, you will not receive a notification that you are certified. Just make sure you read all the requirements and do all the steps for certification and you should be set to go. Also be sure to keep your documents up to date in the repository.
 
From:
Dwight Zwiener
Location:
Topeka, Kansas
 
Question:
Will there be local workshops or seminars offered to assist businesses with the process of taking advantage of this opportunity? If so, where in our location in the Midwest?
Reply:
Hi Dwight - check with your local district office as many are planning workshops. Also, be sure to check out the Small Business Jobs Act Tour. This week was the first week and we will be on the road again the week after next (including a stop in Chicago). Here's the website with details: www.sba.gov/jobsacttour
 
From:
Melissa Bradley
Location:
Morrisonville, NY
 
Question:
How will our company know of contract opportunities? In other words, how will we know who to authorize to view our documentation? Is there a place to sign-up to be notified of contract opportunities relevant to our NCIS codes?
Reply:
Hi Melissa. Visit www.fbo.gov for information on contracting opportunities.
 
From:
Karen Loui
Location:
Honolulu, Hawaii
 
Question:
It is not clear on the website. Is there a list of items required to self-certify. I only see items in the dropdown menu for loading documents in the repository. It doesnt say what is required -- is that information anywhere on the website and if so, where?
Reply:
Hi Karen - to find the list of documents you need to upload, please read the Compliance Guide which is available at www.sba.gov/wosb under the "WOSB Program Information". The list of documents is on page 13
 
From:
Pamela Poort
Location:
Muskegon, MI
 
Question:
Why would a company use a third-party certifier, which probably charges a fee, when they can do this for free by self-certifying? Is the purpose of the third-party certifiers to speed up the process? Since self-certification is exactly that, and there's no notification/confirmation from SBA, again I wonder why to use a third-party certifier? Thank you.
Reply:
Pam - By statute, the program is required to offer both self-certification and third party certification.
 
From:
Mandy
Location:
Albany, NY
 
Question:
My apologies if this question is duplicated. How does this differ from 8a program? Thank you.
Reply:
The 8(a) program is a 9-year business development program for economically and socially disadvantaged small business. There are also opportunities to do federal contracting in the 8(a) program. The WOSB program is a federal contracting program for women-owned small businesses. The requirements and benefits for the two programs are slightly different. You can learn more at www.sba.gov or please visit your local district office.
 
From:
Jim Shoes
Location:
Hickory, NC
 
Question:
Hi Michele - How does our company go about approaching, say the military, if we have a product we'd like to sell them?
Reply:
Hi Jim - my best advice to start with the Office of Small and Disadvantaged Business Utilization at each agency. The military has one - and they are the best entry point to learning about contracting opportunities.
 
From:
Melissa Bradley
Location:
Morrisonville, NY
 
Question:
Will the contents of this chat be available afterward or should I copy and paste relevant questions and answers now? Thank you!
Reply:
Yes! Today’s web chat will be archived online at http://www.sba.gov/content/monthly-web-chat. And just a quick note - we are getting LOTS of questions (which is great). We are trying to answer as many as we can, so please bear with us!
 
From:
Suzan Gonder
Location:
Springfield, MO
 
Question:
We monitor Fed Biz Ops and use BidMatch through our local PTAC. Are there any other sites we should be monitoring for opportunities?
Reply:
Suzan - My other suggestion is to reach out the OSDBU offices at the agencies you believe your products and services are best fit for and ask about what opportunities are available.
 
From:
Lisa Buckley
Location:
Denver, CO
 
Question:
Will there be actual set asides for women owned business, with thresholds like the 8(a) program? If so, when will they begin?
Reply:
Yes - this is a set-aside program. We expect them to begin to go out for solitician in the next month or so. The thresholds are $5M for manufacturing contracts and $3M for other contracts.
 
From:
Linda Molinari
Location:
El Dorado Hills, CA
 
Question:
I am a small women owned business established in 1985 and need capital to expand to take advantage of an opportunity in our state. I would like to get an SBA loan but need to go through the least expensive source. Where is the best place and person to contact. Also, I would like information on Federal contracts both locally and national in my line of business. What is the best source to find out what is available. Do I need a certification first? Which one?
Reply:
Hi Linda - As mentioned this program is for businesses looking to provide the federal governments goods and services. For information on SBA loan progras, we encourage you to visit www.sba.gov or your local district office.
 
From:
Duane Inoue
Location:
Fort Shafter, Hawaii
 
Question:
When will Central Contractor Registration (CCR), Dynamic Small Business Search (DSBS), and Online Representation and Certification Application (ORCA) include Women-Owned Small Business (WOSB) and Economically Disadvantaged WOSB categories? How will these systems differentiate WOSB and WOSB/EDWOSB that have submitted required certificatopms amd documents to WOSB Program Depository?
Reply:
We are expecting these systems to be updated very soon - early April.
 
From:
Darla
Location:
Missoula, Montana
 
Question:
Can you provide details or tell us where to find more detailed information on what the program is?
Reply:
Hi Darla - The best place to learn about the program is at www.sba.gov/wosb. We encourage everyone to visit that site and read all the documents there to learn about the program and its benefits.
 
From:
Dolores Wolfswinkel
Location:
Wheatland, California
 
Question:
Will there be a Mentoring program established in the near future for 8m?
Reply:
Yes Dolores. As part of the Small Business Jobs Act that was passed in 2010, a mentor-protege program will be established for the WOSB by the end of the fiscal year (Sept 30).
 
From:
April E. Simons
Location:
Washington, DC
 

Thank you everyone for joining the web chat.  Again, we apologize for the technical diffciulties at the beginning of the chat.  We tried to answer as many different questions as possible and will aim to have another session soon to answer any more questions.  In the meantime, please be sure to continue to visit www.sba.gov/wosb.  We will continue to post new information there as it becomes available. 

A couple quick notes and tips for you all as you are certifying for this program:

  1. Please be sure to read the regulation and the Compliance Guide available on our website.
  2. If you are self-certifying, be sure to upload your documents to the WOSB repository and update your status in CCR and ORCA/
  3. Please note that any documents you upload to the repository CAN NOT be deleted (for audit purposes) so please be sure to review your documents before you submit them.
  4. Please note that no 3rd party certifiers have been approved yet - we will be announcing them soon
  5. GOOD LUCK!  We are very excited to launch this program for all the women entrepeneurs out there and provide increased opportunities to compete for and win contracts.

Thanks again for joining!  One additional reminder - the SBA is on the road right now coming to a city near you: please visit www.sba.gov/jobsacttour to learn about our Small Business Jobs Act Tour where you will have the opportunity to meet with senior officials from the SBA.  Thank you!