WASHINGTON -- Sen. John F. Kerry (D-Mass.), top Democrat on the Senate Committee on Small Business and Entrepreneurship, today continued his efforts to get the Bush administration to stop delaying and immediately implement a long-overdue contracting program targeting women-owned businesses. The program was to have begun almost five years ago and, because it has not been implemented, is costing women-owned businesses $7 billion a year in lost contracts.

Small Business Administration head Hector Barreto responded to Kerry's previous letter, saying that the agency would begin the process of starting the Women-Owned Small Business Set-Aside Program on July 30, 3005. However, the SBA has failed to meet this deadline.

“Women-owned businesses are asking, ‘When will the Administration keep its word? When will women get their fair share?’” Kerry said. “Women-owned businesses account for 30 percent of the companies in America, yet this Administration won't even get them 5 percent of federal contracts. And it’s costing them big time -- $7 billion a year in lost contracts. I’m going to continue to hound the White House and hound the SBA until this program is implemented and women business owners are getting their fair share.”

The Women-Owned Small Business Set-Aside Program was signed into law by President Clinton in 2000, but the SBA under President Bush has delayed its implementation for almost five years.

In addition to this delay, the Bush Administration has failed to meet the 5 percent goal for women-owned business’s share of federal contracts throughout Bush’s entire tenure in office.

To read Kerry’s letter, please click here.

To read Barreto’s response letter, please click here.