Sole Source Marches Forward

by Ann Sullivan, WIPP Government Relations

Just a few days ago, the Small Business Administration announced a proposed regulation that puts in motion sole source authority for the WOSB procurement program.

SBA did a very wise thing—it separated out the sole source authority piece from the certification portions of the law. Why? Because sole source authority is standard language included in the HUBZone and Service-Disable Veterans programs. It is not a heavy lift to basically cut and paste the language into the WOSB program.

The certification piece, on the other hand, is not standard language. Each small business program administered by SBA has different certification requirements. The law also reads that SBA doesn’t have to put in place a certification program for WOSBs. SBA can choose to accept other federal agency, state certifications or 3rd party certifications. Or, SBA could establish its own certification for WOSBs if it so chooses.

This determination will require a thorough examination of resources SBA can devote to establishing and policing the certification and whether it could launch a program without significant delays as have been experienced in other programs.

Yet another consideration SBA will have to make is what to do with the tens of thousands of women who self-certified for the program. Without a proper transition, the program would be thrown into chaos.

For these reasons, the certification part of the law needs much more consideration and public comment than does the sole source portion of the law.

Now you need to take action. If you agree with SBA’s expeditious implementation of sole source, you need to let your voice be heard. Go to Keyword: SBA. Click on the regulation and you will see the opportunity to comment. Let the SBA know that women business owners are waiting excitedly on this change.

In case you are not familiar with sole source authority, it allows contracting officers to award a sole source award through the WOSB procurement program, given the contracting officer does not have a reasonable expectation that two or more businesses will submit offers. Sole source contracts through the program are limited to $4-6.5 million depending on the industry.

SBA has taken the first step toward putting the WOSB procurement program on equal footing with other SBA programs. We expected no less.

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