Push may very well be coming to shove for female entrepreneurs who want to snag procurement dollars from Uncle Sam.
Since 1994, federal agencies have been required to give at least 5 percent of their contracting business to women. But, of the top 20 agencies, only the State Department, the Veteran's Administration, the Commerce Department and the Department of Housing and Urban Development met the goal in the program's first three years.
A new initiative spurred by Executive Order 13157 (Increasing Opportunities for Women-Owned Small Businesses) is aimed at turning that statistic around.
In addition to calling on agencies to meet the 5 percent goal in both contracting and subcontracting, the order established the Office of Federal Contract Assistance for Women Business Owners (CAWBO), called for creation of a comprehensive Web site to help women successfully do business with the government and directed the SBA to help agencies reach the 5 percent threshold.
CAWBO's primary goal is to help women win more federal contracts. Part of the effort will be additional training and technical assistance opportunities, says Sheryl J. Swed, CAWBO's assistant administrator.
The new site, www.womenbiz.gov, pulls together data from 100 different Web sites to help entrepreneurs find out everything from how to get started to what type of products agencies are buying. In addition, the site features the federal government forecast detailing what all departments plan to buy in the future and a calendar of procurement outreach activities nationwide.