Colorado U.S. Senator Michael Bennet, along with six of his Senate colleagues, has introduced a bipartisan bill to address deficiencies in the Small Business Administration’s (SBA) women-owned small business contracting program, which Congress directed SBA to establish more than 10 years ago.
In addition to Bennet, the Fairness in Women-Owned Small Business Contracting Act of 2012 was introduced by Senators Olympia J. Snowe (R-ME), Kirsten Gillibrand (D-NY), Mary Landrieu (D-LA), Jeanne Shaheen (D-NH), Barbara Mikulski (D-MD), and Lisa Murkowski (R-AK).
“Women-owned small businesses are the fastest growing segment of our economy but they remain woefully underrepresented in small business contracting,” said Bennet. “The Small Business Administration has rightly targeted support for small businesses that might have a disadvantage in the federal contracting process, and women-owned businesses should be included among these groups to ensure they are able to fully participate and take advantage of federal contracting opportunities.”
The Fairness in Women-Owned Small Business Contracting Act of 2012 will provide women entrepreneurs with the tools they need to compete fairly in the federal contracting arena by allowing for receipt of non-competitive contracts when circumstances permit. The bill would eliminate a restriction on the dollar amount of a contract that women-owned small businesses can compete for, putting them on a level playing field with the other federal small business socio-economic contracting programs. The federal government has consistently failed to meet its annual women’s contracting goal of five percent, and this bill will assist in satisfying, if not exceeding that goal. It has already received letters of support from the National Association of Women Business Owners (NAWBO), Women Impacting Public Policy (WIPP) and the U.S. Black Chamber, Inc.
The Senators are introducing this bill to coincide with National Women’s History Month, during which time the country recognizes the contributions, feats, and leadership of America’s women. Bennet’s statement on Women’s History Month is available here. In 1987, Congress declared March as National Women's History Month in perpetuity. Additionally, a special Presidential Proclamation is issued every year which honors the extraordinary achievements of American women.
More information on federal grants and contracts is available on Bennet’s website.