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SBA Oversight Allowed Women-Only Contracts to Go to Men

Maria Contreras-Sweet, head of the U.S. Small Business Administration
The U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA) has women-owned businesses fighting mad, not because of what they did, but because of what they did NOT do. And it's costing women-owned businesses billions.

SBA oversight

Back in 2000, in an effort to help women- and minority-owned businesses, the SBA established that 5 percent of government business contracts go to Women Owned Small Businesses (WOSB). However, not only has the SBA never hit this goal, but it has recently come to light that many women- and minority-owned businesses who qualified for and should have received those government contracts lost out to business owners who cheated by misrepresenting themselves as WOSBs and got the contracts instead. Up to 40 percent of them were not eligible.

Protests ignored

What is particularly disturbing is that flaws in the SBAs system have been brought to the attention of the SBA often by groups such as the U.S. Women’s Chamber of Commerce. But this nonprofit's complaints were ignored. As a certifier of the SBA program, they have now brought this matter to the attention of President Obama in hopes it will be corrected.

A slap in the face to WOSBs

The main issue appears to be a lack of proper management of the program, allowing unqualified business owners to get government contracts instead of those who are clearly qualified. It is not only a slap in the face to legitimate WOSBs who did their diligence and followed all the rules to become certified and, therefore, qualified to get the coveted government contracts, but it represents billions of dollars in lost revenue. Shame on the SBA!