“When it comes to leveling the contracting playing field for women entrepreneurs, Congress threw the first pitch in 2000, but the Bush administration still refuses to step up to the plate,” Sen. Kerry declared. “After seven years of delays, I am tired of listening to excuses. Sen. Snowe and I want to see a timeline for implementing this program now, so that women small business owners aren’t denied another $6 billion in contracts.”
“The end of Fiscal Year 2007 has come and gone, and the Women’s Contracting Set-Aside Program has not been implemented as promised,” said Sen. Snowe. “Our nation’s women-owned small businesses have waited long enough, and I call on the SBA to set this program in motion as expeditiously as possible.”
The Bush administration testified at a July 2007 hearing that the Women’s Procurement Program would be implemented by Sept. 30, 2007. When it became apparent that the deadline would not be met, Sens. Kerry and Snowe pressed the administration in a hearing in September to provide a time frame for implementation. After seven years of delays, the administration again refused to commit to implementing the program within a certain period of time.
Following, is the full text of the letter sent to Small Business Administration [SBA] chief Steven C. Preston:
October 17, 2007
The Honorable Steven C. Preston
U.S. Small Business Administration
409 Third Street, S.W.
Washington, DC 20416
Dear Administrator Preston:
As chairman and ranking member of the Senate Committee on Small Business and Entrepreneurship, we would like to express our deep concerns about the long-delayed implementation of the Women’s Contracting Set-Aside Program. The Small Business Administration [SBA] recently released Fiscal Year 2006 small-business “goaling” results that continue to illustrate just how far the government is from reaching its women-owned and agencywide small-business goals. Women-owned small businesses only achieved 3.4% of the 5% statutory goal.
The women’s set-aside program enacted in December 2000 authorized, on a discretionary basis, contracting officers to “set aside” competition for federal contracts to women-owned small businesses. The program required SBA to conduct a study determining which industries would be characterized as underrepresented. The study was finally completed and made available to the public in April of this year. Regrettably, nearly seven years after enactment, women-owned small businesses are still waiting for the program to be implemented.
During a committee hearing on July 18th, the SBA pledged to implement the women set-aside program by the “end of this fiscal year.” Also, in a September 20th hearing on expanding federal contracting opportunities for women business owners, we strongly urged you to follow through on your earlier commitment to implement the program by the end of the fiscal year. The end of Fiscal Year 2007 has come and gone, and the program has not been implemented, as promised. We hope that you would agree that women-owned small businesses have waited long enough.
We cannot emphasize enough the importance of your immediate attention to this vital issue. Please provide a response with a specific timeline for implementation of the women’s contracting set-aside program within 10 working days of receipt of this letter.
John F. Kerry
Olympia J. Snowe
Source: U.S. Senate Committee on Small Business and Entrepreneurship
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