By: Edward T. DeLisle

On October 4, 2010, the Small Business Administration issued a Final Rule allowing for the implementation of the long-awaited set-aside program for women-owned businesses. The program is designed to assist federal agencies in achieving the current 5% statutory goal for the award of contracts to such companies. Pursuant to the current version of the Rule, woman-owned businesses will not be required to identify instances of past discrimination to qualify for the program, but they will have to adhere to certain income and wealth restrictions, unless the industry they operate in qualifies as a "substantially underrepresented" industry. Construction contractors have not been identified as "substantially underrepresented" by SBA and, therefore, as currently constituted, the income and wealth restrictions will apply to the construction industry.

At this juncture, the Final Rule is in the midst of its 120 day implementation stage and is scheduled to go into effect on February 4, 2011.  At some point prior, the FAR Council will issue a new clause relative to this program. Moreover, keep an eye out for a few potential changes issued by members of the 112th U.S. Congress, which is being sworn in today. In one form or another, this change to the federal procurement landscape will occur in 2011.

Edward T. DeLisle is a Partner in the firm and a member of the Federal Contracting Practice Group.