Monday, January 7, 2008

Women Business Owners -Want to make a cabinet for the Feds?

An AAUW colleague from D.C. who, like me, owns her own business, sent this link to a Washington Post story:

It seems that in 1994 Congress told the Small Business Administration to increase the number of federal small business contracts going to women-owned firms. The goal they set? A modest 5%.

Now, fourteen years later, and only because the DC Circuit Court ruled that the government was unreasonably delaying enactment, the SBA is finally promulgating rules about how that will be done.

Set-Asides On Women's Contracts Criticized - "In proposed rules issued two weeks ago, the federal agency identified just four industries in which it said women-owned small businesses are underrepresented and thereby eligible for set-asides: intelligence; engraving and metalworking; furniture and kitchen cabinet manufacturing; and a limited category of motor vehicle dealers."

Four industries! But, according to the Washington Post, here are the facts.

"Women-run companies represent about 30 percent of all privately held firms nationally, but in 2006, the latest year for which data is available, they made up just 3.4 percent of government contracts, according to various surveys."

This is a story to watch and offer our comments...because equity is still an issue.

Thanks to Patty Hankins for the link and the US Women's Chamber of Commerce for suing the SBA for its failure to publish the regs necessary to implement the set-aside program.

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