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May 21, 2012

CompTIA, TechVoice Partners and Other Industry Groups Back Legislation to Open Government Contracting Opportunities for More Women-Owned Small Businesses

Washington, D.C., May 21, 2012CompTIA, the non-profit association for the information technology (IT) industry, seven of its TechVoice partners and other industry groups today expressed support for legislation aimed at expanding government contracting opportunities for more small businesses owned by women.

The technology groups are supporting S. 2172, the “Fairness in Women-Owned Small Business Contracting Act of 2012.” This legislation would improve access to federal contracting opportunities by women-owned small businesses (WOSB).

Joining CompTIA in backing the legislation are the Information Technology Industry CouncilTechNet and several TechVoice members, including the Arizona Technology Council, ASCII Group, New Hampshire High Tech Council, New Jersey Technology Council, North Carolina Technology AssociationTechnology Association of Georgia and Washington Technology Industry Association.

“It is only fair and reasonable that the WOSB program be brought into parity with other federal contracting programs,” the technology groups said in a letter to Senators Mary L. Landrieu (D-La.), chair, and Olympia J. Snowe (R-Maine), ranking member of the Senate Committee on Small Business & Entrepreneurship. “We congratulate you for your work in developing this important legislation, and we stand ready to support passage for the benefit of our small business members.”

The WOSB Federal Contract program authorizes five percent of Federal prime and subcontracts to be set aside for WOSBs. However, an agency is allowed to invoke this set-aside only in situations when the contracting officer has a reasonable expectation that two or more WOSBs will submit offers. But this “two or more” business requirement does not apply to other related programs, such as section 8(a) Business Development Participants, HUBZone small businesses and Service Disabled Veteran Owned small businesses. 

“This issue is further exacerbated by the historic and continuing under-representation of women in IT,” the technology industry organizations said. “We believe this unequal treatment is an unnecessary roadblock to those WOSBs that provide goods and services in an underrepresented industry.”

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics Current Population Survey, women make up 47 percent of the U.S. professional workforce, but only 28 percent of core IT positions. A natural consequence of this low workforce percentage is that fewer women own their own IT businesses – approximately 11 percent of IT firms in the U.S.

“This low concentration of women-owned IT businesses makes the ‘two or more’ requirement particularly onerous and creates somewhat absurd outcomes,” the groups said. “Either a firm must recruit a competing WOSB to bid the contract; or, more likely, that firm is barred from consideration for the set-aside despite otherwise being qualified for the contract. The fact that women are so severely under-represented in IT should not act to bar their entry into the federal procurement space under the WOSB program.”

Passage of S. 2172 would allow a contracting officer to award a sole source contract to a WOSB under the same conditions as applicable to HUBZone small businesses. 

About CompTIA
CompTIA is the voice of the world’s information technology (IT) industry. Its members are the companies at the forefront of innovation; and the professionals responsible for maximizing the benefits organizations receive from their investments in technology. For more information, visit www.comptia.org or follow CompTIA at www.facebook.com/CompTIA and twitter.com/comptia.

CompTIA’s Public Advocacy group focuses on a broad array of issues affecting the IT industry, with particular emphasis on representing the interests of small and mid-sized IT companies and entrepreneurs.  Areas of focus include workforce education and training, tax matters, access to capital, health IT, procurement, cybersecurity and smart technologies.

About TechVoice
TechVoice (www.techvoice.org) is a partnership of the Computing Technology Industry Association (CompTIA), the Technology Councils of North America (TECNA), and other participating regional technology organizations. Collectively, we represent thousands of technology companies across the country employing millions of workers. We are dedicated to empowering and mobilizing the grassroots tech community to impact legislative and regulatory issues important to growth, innovation and job creation.

Audrey Chang
The Harbour Group

Steven Ostrowski