The contracting rulebook used by most federal agencies embraced the new sole source authority for women entrepreneurs. In the final step of a multi-year effort – with WIPP at the helm – the government gave the final green light for contracting officers to award sole source contracts to women business owners.
Deciding that finalizing the sole source authority of the WOSB program was an urgent and compelling need, the FAR Council issued an interim rule on December 31, 2015, to immediately allow contracting officers to award sole source contracts in the WOSB program. While the Small Business Administration (SBA) already finalized their rules for WOSB sole source on September 14, 2015, the FAR Council needed to issue guidance to contracting officers on how to use the program. This rule provides that guidance and is effective immediately. Notably, the FAR Council determined that sole source applies to acquisitions at or below the acquisition threshold.
As a reminder, sole source contracts are allowed in the WOSB program when four conditions are met:
- Contract falls in a NAICS code approved for the WOSB program.
- The value of the contract, including options, is under $4 million ($6.5 million for manufacturing contracts).
- The contract can be awarded at a fair or reasonable price.
- The contracting officer does not have a reasonable expectation that two or more WOSBs/EDWOSBs will submit offers at a fair and reasonable price.
The interim rule is available here, with comment due February 29, 2016. While a final rule will ultimately be issued, this rule makes sole source effective in the FAR as of December 31, 2015.