WASHINGTON -- Sen. John F. Kerry (D-Mass), top Democrat on the Senate Committee on Small Business and Entrepreneurship, today repeated his call for the administration to implement a program to increase federal contracting opportunities for women-owned businesses. The program was passed by Congress and signed into law five years ago, but has yet to go into effect.

“It seems the so-called ‘ownership society’ doesn't apply to women,” Kerry said. “For five years, this administration’s delays have been costing women business owners big time -- over $6 billion a year. By refusing to implement the women’s contracting program and repeatedly failing to meet required contracting goals, this administration is undermining virtually every existing opportunity for women business owners to break into the the good ol’ boy network of federal contracting.”

In his letter to the Small Business Administration (SBA), Kerry criticized the administration for its delay in implementing the five-year-old women’s contracting program and for its inability to meet the 5 percent women-owned small business contracting goal.

Kerry also called for the immediate implementation of the women’s contracting program, pointing to a 2001 report by the Government Accountability Office (GAO) that cited that one of the barriers to women seeking to do business with the federal government was “the absence of a specific program targeted to women-owned businesses.”

“Any further delay in implementing the legislation, which is already well overdue, will continue to prevent the nation’s women-owned businesses from receiving their fair share of federal contracts,” Kerry wrote.

The Center for Women’s Business Research estimates that as of 2004, there are an estimated 6.7 million privately-held, majority (51 percent or more) women-owned firms. They account for 30 percent of all privately-held firms in the country, generate $1.19 trillion in sales, and employ 9.8 million people nationwide. Between 1997 and 2004, the growth in the number of these majority women-owned firms was nearly two and a half times the rate for all U.S. privately-held firms (23 percent vs. 9 percent). For more information visit: http://www.nfwbo.org.

To read Kerry’s letter, please click here.