WASHINGTON, D.C. – As the nation launches its celebration of  National Small Business Week, U.S. Senators Olympia J. Snowe (R-Maine) and Kirsten Gillibrand (D-N.Y.) today announced the Fairness in Women-Owned Small Business Contracting Act of 2010, bipartisan legislation to address deficiencies in the Small Business Administration’s (SBA) women-owned small business contracting program which Congress directed it to establish nearly 10 years ago.

“Simply put, women-owned small businesses have yet to receive their fair share of federal contracting dollars, and as the fastest growing segment of our economy, women-owned small businesses will play a critical role in helping our nation recover from the current recession,” said Senator Snowe, Ranking Member of the Senate Committee on Small Business and Entrepreneurship.  “This inequity was the impetus behind the women’s contracting program that Congress authorized on December 21, 2000, and it is regrettable that the SBA is only now proposing a workable rule for this program.  While I applaud this Administration’s efforts to move this process forward, the unfortunate fact is that women-owned small businesses will still face a disadvantage when compared to HUBZone, 8(a), and service-disabled veteran-owned businesses.  Our legislation will help put women-owned firms on a level playing field with these other socio-economic groups to ensure their maximum participation in the federal contracting process.”

“If we’re going to rebuild our economy and create new jobs, women-owned small businesses need fair and equal access to federal contracts,” Senator Gillibrand said.  “Small businesses are the biggest job creators of our economy and we must ensure their success. This legislation will help make sure federal contracts are being awarded to small businesses right here in America, creating new jobs, and creating better opportunities for women in America to be the entrepreneurs our economy needs.”

The Fairness in Women-Owned Small Business Contracting Act of 2010 will provide women entrepreneurs with the tools they need to compete fairly in the federal contracting arena by allowing for receipt of non-competitive contracts when circumstances permit.  Moreover, the legislation would eliminate a restriction on the dollar amount of a contract that women-owned small businesses can compete for, putting them on a level playing field with the other federal small business socio-economic contracting programs.  The federal government has consistently failed to meet its annual women’s contracting goal of five percent, and this legislation will assist in satisfying, if not exceeding that goal.

Senators Snowe and Gillibrand are introducing this bill at the beginning of National Small Business Week, during which time the country recognizes the contributions of small businesses to the nation’s economic well-being.  President Obama issued a proclamation acknowledging National Small Business Week on May 20th, as has been the custom each year since President John F. Kennedy in 1963.