GAO Wants Better Oversight of Third-Party WOSB Certifiers

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.

For more information, see GAO-15-54, Women-Owned Small Business Program: Certifier Oversight and Additional Eligibility Controls Are Needed.

About William Van Huis

Bill Van Huis is a Senior Writer/Analyst for Wolters Kluwer Law & Business who tracks and analyzes new regulations impacting federal government contracting. He also follows court decisions involving bid protests and contract disputes. You can find his work in WK publications like Government Contract Reports and the FAR and DFARS Matrix Tools. Bill is a Certified Professional Contracts Manager, and he has a law degree from Southern Illinois University, where he graduated summa cum laude. Prior to joining WK, Bill worked both inside and outside state and local government in the areas of procurement and municipal finance. Bill also worked as a staff attorney for the Illinois Supreme Court.
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