On The Hill – USWCC WOSB Roundtable a Success
On July 24, 2013, the U.S. Women's Chamber of Commerce WOSB National Council held a USWCC WOSB Small Business Briefing & Roundtable hosted by Senator Landrieu. The session provided a brief on the current standing of the WOSB / EDWOSB program followed by a discussion of challenges for its use and a commitment from Senator Landrieu to put together a senate companion bill to the Women's Procurement Program Equalization Act (H.R. 2452).
Roundtable Participants included Krystal Bromfield, Tax & Procurement Counsel, Committee on Small Business and Entrepreneurship; Roxanne Lane, Program Analyst for the US Dept of Agriculture; Karen L. Baker, Chief of Small Business Policy, HQ Army Corp of Engineers OSBP; Dot Harris, Director, Office of Economic Impact & Diversity, Dept of Energy; Kevin Boshears, Director, OSDBU, Dept of Homeland Security; Teresa Lewis, Director, OSDBU, Health and Human Services; Malda Brown, Procurement Center Representative, SBA; Sherri Walls, HR Director, EnRep Inc; Diane Holte, President/CEO, Holte Construction; and Susan Wendt, President, Wendt Productions/ USWCC DOT Liaison. Margot Dorfman, USWCC CEO facilitated the forum.
Participating agency leaders represented those making their WOSB goals and those that are not. Agencies making their goals admitted that they did so not by using the program exclusively; the program is difficult to use. Kevin Boshears did a quick study, randomly picking out 10 contracts in fbo.com. He found that 5 were correct; 2 had NAICS codes not included in the program and 3 had NAICS from the opposite women’s program that it was assigned.
Ultimately there is still confusion among contracting officers about the program; they prefer to use other programs and double count to attain their goals which defeats the purpose of the program that was designed to widen the pool of women-owned firms accessing contracts.
While the U.S. Women's Chamber of Commerce key legislative objectives identified the key challenges and remedies to the WOSB / EDWOSB Program, the Roundtable discussion provided real life challenges from both business owners and agencies alike. Senator Landrieu took time from her busy schedule to drop by to voice her support where she agreed to champion legislation that would improve the WOSB/EDWOSB Program to increase access to federal contracts for women-owned firms.
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