WIPP has reason to celebrate with all women business owners. As of today, contracting officers now have the authority to award sole-source contracts to women-owned small businesses. This authority will level the playing field in the federal marketplace and provide additional opportunities for women entrepreneurs to expand their businesses.
So how do you get a sole sourced contract? There are four questions to ask when considering if a contract can be awarded to a WOSB via sole source authority:
- Is the contract in a WOSB or EDWOSB eligible NAICS code?
The Women Owned Small Business (WOSB) Procurement program is unique in that it is only applicable to contracts in certain NAICS codes. In addition some NAICS codes are open to all WOSBs, while some are only available to Economically-Disadvantaged WOSBs (EDWOSBs). You can check if a contract’s NAICS codes are in the program on the SBA website www.sba.gov/wosb. Again, the NAICS code of the contract, not just your company, is important.
- Is the contract (including options) valued at $6.5 million or less for manufacturing contracts or $4 million or less for all other contracts?
Similar to other small business contracting programs, WOSB sole source contracts are limited to certain sizes. For manufacturing contracts (the 31-33 NAICS codes) that cap is $6.5 million, while all other contracts have a cap of $4 million. This is including all options on the contract.
- Can the contract be awarded to the WOSB or EDWOSB at a fair and reasonable price?
The law also requires that the contract can be awarded at a “fair and reasonable price.” This common term in federal contracting is described in the FAR – essentially the federal procurement rulebook. Good news – if you are submitting pricing that is on the GSA schedule, it is already considered fair and reasonable.
- Lastly, in the determination of the contracting officer, is there a reasonable expectation that there is only one WOSB/EDWOSB that can perform?
The final requirement for a sole-sourced contract in the WOSB program is the contracting officer’s determination, through market research, that only one WOSB/EDWOSB can perform the requirement. Many people find this component especially difficult, however, it is important to note that agency-specific requirements may make your solution unique. Also, if it is determined that 2 or more WOSB/EDWOSBs can perform, the contract can be set-aside through the WOSB program.
If the answer to all four questions was yes – you have yourself a strong case for a WOSB sole source contract.
Keep an eye out for additional education from WIPP on sole source authority. WIPP will be working with the SBA and OSDBU offices to help educate both women business owners and contract officers on sole source authority.
Don’t forget! If you are looking for federal contracting opportunities, make sure to get your business listed in WIPP’s National Directory of Women-Owned Small Businesses.