Executive Order Directs Federal Agencies and SBA to Take Steps to Foster Women-Owned Businesses

“President Clinton has signed an Executive Order calling on all federal agencies to take immediate steps to lead the government to meet or exceed the 5 percent government contracting goal now in existence for women-owned small businesses.The order was issued during National Small Business Week, when recognition was given to the more than 25 million small businesses nationwide. The President’s order directs departments and agencies to develop long-term comprehensive strategies to expand opportunities for women-owned small businesses.Women-owned businesses are among the fastest growing sectors in the economy and their contributions to the current economic expansion are considerable, said U.S. Small Business Administration Administrator Aida Alvarez.The Executive Order directs the SBA to:- Establish an Office of Women’s Procurement;- Provide more extensive training and technical assistance to women-owned small businesses;- Develop a single Web site to provide procurement information to women-owned small businesses;- Develop an interactive database containing information on women-owned small businesses; and- Work with state governments to share information concerning procurement opportunities.The National Foundation of Women Business Owners estimates in 1999 there were 9.1 million women-owned small businesses, employing 27.5 million people and generating over $3.6 trillion in sales and revenues. In fiscal year 1999, women-owned small businesses secured just under $4.6 billion in federal contracts, amounting to 2.5 percent of the nearly $186 billion in U.S. contracts accessible to small businesses.The National Women’s Business Council applauds the President’s efforts in increasing competitive contracting opportunities for women business owners, said Kay Koplovitz, chair of the National Women’s Business Council. This Executive Order provides the federal agencies with a clear action plan for meeting and exceeding the statutory 5 percent women’s procurement goal.The order also requires departments and agencies to take steps such as:- Designating a senior acquisition official to identify and promote contracting opportunities for women-owned small businesses;- Requiring contracting officers, to the maximum extent practicable, to include women-owned small businesses in competitive acquisitions;- Implementing mentor programs to include women-owned firms;- Offering industry-wide as well as industry specific outreach, training and technical assistance programs for women-owned small businesses; and- Requiring agencies failing to meet their goals to establish an action plan to increase participation in the future.”