Monday, August 16, 2010

New rules may help women-owned firms get federal contracts
The guidelines aimed at getting women-owned businesses the minimum 5% of government contracts initially mandated in 1994 will focus on 83 industries, including residential construction.

By Cyndia Zwahlen
August 16, 2010

In 1994, Congress passed a law requiring that a minimum of 5% of the money spent on government contracts go to the nation's businesses that are majority-owned by women.That was great news for women who believed they had never received a fair share of those contracts.But the government didn't reach that mandated goal, and six years later Congress passed the Equity in Contracting for Women Act to give women-owned businesses more traction getting federal contracts.That program was never implemented. Disagreements, including a lawsuit, held it up, and advocates for the businesses accused federal officials of foot-dragging. The closest the government ever came to meeting the goal was 3.4% in fiscal 2008. Recently, however, there was new hope that the full 5% could finally become a reality. New rules for a Small Business Administration program to get contracts to women-owned businesses are going through final review by the agency.Karen Mills, head of the SBA, told a congressional committee last month that it's almost ready to go live.

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