A report released by the Government Accountability Office finds the Small Business Administration performs minimal oversight of third-party women-owned small business program certifiers and that SBA had not developed procedures that provide reasonable assurance that only eligible businesses obtain WOSB set-aside contracts.
To be eligible for the WOSB program, businesses can self-certify at no cost, or use the fee-based services of an approved third-party certifier.
However, GAO found SBA generally has not reviewed certifier performance or developed or implemented procedures for third-party reviews, including determining whether certifiers inform businesses of the no-cost self-certification option, a requirement in the agency’s agreement with certifiers. GAO also found SBA has not completed or implemented procedures to review the monthly reports that third-party certifiers must submit.
According to GAO, without ongoing monitoring and oversight of third-party certifiers, SBA cannot reasonably assure that certifiers fulfill the requirements of the agreements. In 2012 and 2013, SBA found that more than 40 percent of businesses (that previously received contracts) it examined for program eligibility should not have attested they were WOSBs or economically disadvantaged WOSBs at the time of SBA’s review.
GAO recommended that SBA establish and implement procedures to monitor certifiers and improve annual eligibility examinations.