Defense act widens entry for female contractors
A new law will increase contracting opportunities for female entrepreneurs who want to sell products or services to the government.
The National Defense Authorization Act of 2013 expands the U.S. Small Business Administration’s Women- Owned Small Business Program, which authorizes federal agencies to set aside contracts for women-owned companies in male-dominated industries.
Created in 2011, the WOSB program originally limited the dollar amount per contract, capping it at $6.5 million for manufacturing contracts and $4 million for all others.
The act removes those monetary limits. It also requires the SBA to identify additional industries in which women-owned companies are underrepresented. Currently, the program is available for businesses in 83 industries defined by the North American Industry Classification Systems.
Noah Enterprises, a Virginia Beach general contractor, is one of those businesses. President and founder Carol Curtis says the WOSB program allowed her to compete last year with other women-owned companies for a U.S. Army project at Fort A.P. Hill in Bowling Green.
Curtis won the bid, a $500,000 contract to replace a water control structure at Travis Lake.
“If they’re expanding the NAICS codes, it’s going to expand the opportunities,” she said, noting that government agencies can only set aside a contract if two or more WOSBs are likely to submit offers.
And, in the end, companies still need to have what it takes, she said.
“What it does is it gives you opportunities,” Curtis said of programs like the SBA’s 8(a), minority-owned and WOSB certifications. “It’s allowed me to get my foot in the door at bases and installations and the department of defense.
"Once I got in the door, I still had to have the experience and knowledge” to get the job done, she said.