WASHINGTON (TheStreet) -- The U.S. Small Business Administration is encouraging more women small-business owners to apply for federal contracts.
The program, called the Woman-Owned Small Business Federal Contract Program, was officially launched today, but has been in the works for several years -- and arrives just as House and Senate committees on small business have launched a critical look at administration programs, hoping to cut its budget and save money.
The SBA plans to implement the women's federal contract program over the next several months, the administration says, with plans to award the first contracts by the fourth quarter -- when the largest percent of federal contracts are awarded.
"Women-owned businesses are one of the fastest-growing sectors of the economy," SBA Administrator Karen Mills said in a statement. "That's why providing them with all the tools necessary to compete for and win federal contracts is so important. Federal contracts can provide women-owned small businesses with the oxygen they need to take their business to the next level."
Meanwhile, the administration is to identify by Feb. 10 programs that could be cut or reduced without hurting the SBA's mission, and at least one minority-based program -- for Native American entrepreneurs -- and another helping veterans have been named by a House committee led by Rep. Sam Graves (R-Mo.) as an example of where to look.
Still, the administration is keeping in place the requirement that 5% of federal contracting dollars be awarded to women-owned businesses and economically disadvantaged women-owned businesses.
To qualify for the program, a firm must:
- Be at least 51% owned and controlled by one or more women and considered "small" by to SBA size standards. The owners must be U.S. citizens.
- A woman must manage the day-to-day operations, make long-term decisions for the business, hold the highest position at the business and work there full time.