WASHINGTON – On the heels of a recently released study that found lagging participation in federal contracting on behalf of women-owned small businesses, Senator John Kerry (D-Mass.) called upon the Bush Administration to take immediate action and implement the Women's Procurement Program created in 2000. The Administration has failed to implement the program, despite repeated promises, costing women-owned firms $6 billion in lost contracts a year.

"Seven years is too long to wait to get the federal government to follow the law," said Kerry, Chairman of the Committee on Small Business and Entrepreneurship. "Women-owned small businesses contribute hundreds of billions of dollars to our economy each year. It's shameful that they're not getting a fair shot at government contracts, and the Administration needs to help level the playing field by implementing the Women's Procurement Program without further delay."

The Federal Procurement Data System numbers show that only 3.3 percent of federal prime contracting was done with women-owned firms in 2005 – far short of the federally mandated five percent goal. Additionally, the RAND study found as many as 87 percent of industry categories severely lack adequate representation of women-owned businesses.

There were 10.4 million women-owned firms in the United States generating $1.9 trillion to the economy and employing 12.8 million people in 2006, according to the Center for Women's Business Research Center.

The Women's Procurement Program serves to increase women-owned business participation in federal contracting. With the release of the RAND study demonstrating the need for a women-owned business set-aside program, Kerry strongly urged the Small Business Administration (SBA) to aggressively and immediately implement the Women's Procurement Program.

To read the text of Kerry's letter to SBA Administrator Steven Preston, please click here.