The Small Business Administration (SBA) released an advance notice of proposed rulemaking (ANPR) on Friday, December 18, 2015, which would change the certification process for the Women Owned Small Business (WOSB) Program. Public comments on SBA’s new rules are due not later than February 16, 2016.
In the 2015 version of the National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA), Congress directed the SBA to end self-certification for WOSBs and EDWOSBs and take on a formal certification process. Section 825 of the 2015 NDAA specifically authorizes certification by a federal agency, a State government, SBA, or a national certifying entity approved by SBA. In the ANPR, the SBA is seeking comments on how to best implement this Congressional directive. In essence, the SBA is requesting the public to suggest the most appropriate way to structure the WOSB/EDWOSB certification process before SBA engages in a formal rulemaking process.
The Advance Notice of Proposed Rulemaking (ANPR)
Four significant areas of change to the WOSB certification process are under consideration:
- The SBA wants comments on the four certification approaches specified in the 2015 NDAA. Specifically, SBA requests comments on whether each of the four types should be pursued.
- SBA also requests comments on whether there should be a grace period after implementation of a formal certification process to give self-certified WOSBs and EDWOSBs firms enough time to complete the new certification process.
- SBA also wants public comment on what should become of the current WOSB repository and whether or not it should be maintained.
- Lastly, the SBA is asking for comments on the existing SBA-approved third-party national certifying entities as well as on the WOSB certification programs available through the SBA’s 8(a) Program and by state governments that certify women to be DBEs for the U.S. Department of Transportation’s Disadvantaged Business Enterprise (DBE) Program.
Who Should Comment
SBA’s ANPR is extremely relevant to all businesses currently self-certified as a WOSB or EDWOSB, as well as those who intend to pursue WOSB/EDWOSB certification in the future. The ANPR, including instructions for commenting can be found at: https://www.gpo.gov/fdsys/pkg/FR-2015-12-18/pdf/2015-31806.pdf