Ever since last year’s launch of the System for Award Management (SAM), the federal database that replaced Central Contractor Registration (CCR), there have been a myriad of problems involving system stability, data entry by vendors, access by users, and data migration from CCR to SAM. Over time, some of these issues have been resolved. However, new problems have arisen, and the latest one that has come to our attention could effect the eligibility of women owned businesses for federal contract set-asides.
It’s come to the attention of the Georgia Tech Procurement Assistance Center (GTPAC) that SAM may incorrectly omit a company’s Women-Owned Small Business (WOSB) and the Economically Disadvantaged Small Business (EDWOSB) designation. This means some small businesses that are legitimate WOSB/EDWOSB concerns are unable to visibly display their status in SAM at this time. Reports indicate that the Small Business Administration (SBA) has called this latest challenge to the attention of the General Services Administration (GSA), SAM’s administrator.
Until this problem is resolved, GTPAC recommends that WOSB and EDWOSB firms familiarize themselves with the procedure by which a federal Contracting Officer is to verify a firm’s WOSB or EDWOSB status so that, if necessary, suggestions can be made to the Contracting Officer.
The Code of Federal Regulations (CFR) at CFR 127.301(2) indicates that a Contracting Officer may accept a concern’s (bidder or proponent) representation as a WOSB or EDWOSB if the apparent successful offeror provides the appropriate documentation, as described in §127.300(e) at the time of initial offer.
Here are three ways a Contracting Officer can verify a WOSB/EDWOSB concern’s legitimacy:
- If an WOSB/EDWOSB concern has a valid certificate from one of SBA’s four approved third party certifiers (i.e., El Paso Hispanic Chamber of Commerce, National Women Business Owners Corporation, U.S. Women’s Chamber of Commerce, and Women’s Business Enterprise National Council), the concern can submit the certificate along with a signed copy of SBA form 2413 Woman-Owned Small Business (WOSB) or SBA 2414 (EDWOSB) form to the Contracting Officer to validate the concern’s eligibility status. Furthermore, the WOSB/EDWOSB concern must have the same documentation uploaded into SBA’s WOSB Repository at the time of initial offer. (Under no circumstances are certifications to be accepted from parties other than the four organizations approved by the SBA; in other words, state certifications or any other forms of certification are not to be considered or accepted.)
- The WOSB/EDWOSB concern may submit a hard copy (signed) of all the required documents mandated by in the Code of Federal Regulations 13 CFR 127.300(e) and a signed copy of SBA WOSB form 2413 or to the EDWOSB form 2414, for verification of WOSB/EDWOSB status. These records are to be maintained for six years in the contract file.
- If the WOSB/EDWOSB concern is also an SBA-certified 8(a) concern, the concern may submit a copy of the SBA 8(a) BD Participant certificate and the signed SBA WOSB form 2413 or to the EDWOSB form 2414.
In all instances, the Contracting Officer must verify a concern’s status in SBA’s WOSB Program Repository. It is the obligation of the WOSB or EDWOSB to provide current, accurate and complete documents to the Contracting Officer for each contract award.
Ultimately, it is the responsibility of the Contracting Officer to verify WOSB/EDWOSB status. If the Contracting Officer has information that calls into question the eligibility of a concern as an WOSB/EDWOSB, or the concern fails to provide all of the required documents to verify its eligibility, the Contracting Officer is to not award a WOSB/EDWOSB contract to that business concern.
Regardless of how a business concern is listed in SAM, Contracting Officers should affirm the status of WOSB and EDWOSB concerns by checking their documentation online in the WOSB Program Repository per 13 CFR § 127.300(c). Apparent awardees can only provide access to those Contracting Officers who are registered for the WOSB Program Repository. Contracting Officers should go to: https://eweb.sba.gov/gls/dsp_login.cfm and click on “Request SBA User ID” to establish an account.
Any WOSB/EDWOSB who encounters questions because a Contracting Officer cannot identify a firm as a WOSB or EDWOSB in SAM should communicate the foregoing procedural information to the Contracting Officer.
GTPAC’s sister organization, The Contracting Education Academy at Georgia Tech, has created a presentation that addresses various issues involving the System for Award Management (SAM), including helpful tips and work-arounds for both the vendor and acquisition communities. To download a copy, please click here.
- For the latest news on developments involving SAM, visit: http://gtpac.org/tag/sam.