The Small Business Administration’s (SBA’s) October 15, 2020 elimination of the self-certification process for Women-Owned Small Businesses (WOSBs) and Economically Disadvantaged WOSBs (EDWOSBs) is rapidly approaching. A WOSB is a small business (based on the applicable NAICS code determination) that is 51% directly and unconditionally owned and controlled by one or more women. An EDWOSB is a WOSB that meets the definition of economically disadvantaged, e.g., a WOSB whose ability to compete in the free enterprise system has been impaired due to diminished capital and credit opportunities as compared to others in the same or similar line of business.
Prior to this new rule, WOSBs and EDWOSBs had been able to self-certify (essentially on the honor system) that they met the applicable criteria. As a result of the SBA’s new rule, firms hoping to compete for WOSB and EDWOSB set-aside contracts being awarded after October 15, 2020 will need to be formerly certified through one of three possible options: (1) the SBA’s new, free online certification process at: https://beta.certify.sba.gov/; (2) an approved third-party certification provider; or (3) a VA determination of Service-Disabled Veteran Owned or Veteran-Owned small business status and appropriate proof of women ownership and control.
To get started using the SBA’s new certification process, contractors will need to have a Data Universal Number System (DUNS) number, register in the System for Award Management (SAM), and create a SBA Connect Account. The SBA also provides a checklist of documents that applicants will likely be required to submit during the certification process. These generally include: proof of citizenship and corporate formation documents such as Operating Agreements, Articles of Organization, Joint Venture Agreements, Articles of Incorporation, Bylaws, etc. Those seeking to qualify as economically disadvantaged will also have to submit certain personal financial information such as tax returns, W-2s, and detailed information about the value of your (and in some cases your spouse’s) assets. These checklists can be found here.
WOSBs and EDWOSBs that had previously self-certified and are currently performing under an awarded contract will not be immediately impacted, but will have to adhere to the new certification process when their prior self-certification lapses and/or the contract expires.
To learn more, visit the SBA website at: https://www.sba.gov/federal-contracting/contracting-assistance-programs/women-owned-small-business-federal-contracting-program.