WASHINGTON, D.C. – Today, in conjunction with National Women’s History Month, U.S. Senators Olympia J. Snowe (R-Maine), Kirsten Gillibrand (D-New York), Mary Landrieu (D-Louisiana), Michael Bennet (D-Colorado), Jeanne Shaheen (D-New Hampshire), Barbara Mikulski (D-Maryland), and Lisa Murkowski (R-Alaska) announced the Fairness in Women-Owned Small Business Contracting Act of 2012, bipartisan legislation to address deficiencies in the Small Business Administration’s (SBA) women-owned small business contracting program which Congress directed it to establish over 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 recent recession,” the Senators said. “This inequity was the impetus behind the women’s contracting program that Congress authorized on December 21, 2000, and over a decade later, the program was finally implemented by the SBA. While we applaud this Administration’s efforts to finally put in place a functioning program, 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.”

The Fairness in Women-Owned Small Business Contracting Act of 2012 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. This legislation has already received letters of support (attached) from the National Association of Women Business Owners (NAWBO), Women Impacting Public Policy (WIPP) and the U.S. Black Chamber, Inc.

The Senators are introducing this bill to coincide with National Women’s History Month, during which time the country recognizes the contributions, feats, and leadership of America’s women. In 1987, Congress declared March as National Women's History Month in perpetuity. Additionally, a special Presidential Proclamation is issued every year which honors the extraordinary achievements of American women.