Women’s business groups are speaking out against proposed rules for the Women’s Procurement Program by the Small Business Administration that they say will limit eligibility for contracts that the government sets aside for disadvantaged companies. The Washington Post reports that the agency limited the women-owned businesses eligible for such contracts to only four industries: intelligence; engraving and metalworking; furniture and kitchen cabinet manufacturing; and a limited category of motor vehicle dealers.
The Small Businesses Administration also limited the size of any contract to $5 million for manufacturing work and $3 million for other jobs. The proposal (PDF) was issues two weeks ago, and small businesses have a 60-day comment period before the rules are final.
The fight to increase the number of government contracts awarded to women-owned business has continued for years. The Women’s Procurement Program, which was passed in 2000, was not implemented before now due to delays and miscommunication within the agency, according to a September audit by the Inspector General’s office.
Margot Dorfman, chief executive of US Women’s Chamber of Commerce, said that after fighting for more than a decade, she’s feels like she is being sabotaged. “It just amazes me that the SBA is continuing to block women-owned firms from accessing government contracts,” she told the Washington Post.