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Women's Contracting Program Stuck in Neutral

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By Robert Brodsky

It's been nearly a decade since Congress enacted the women's contracting program through the Small Business Reauthorization Act of 2000. But the Small Business Administration has yet to implement the program and its long-awaited regulations.

On Tuesday, Sen. Olympia Snowe, R-Maine, ranking member of the Senate Committee on Small Business and Entrepreneurship, sent a letter to SBA Administrator Karen Mills urging her to finally kick the program into high gear and to set a timetable for implementing the program prior to Oct. 31, which marks the end of National Women's Small Business Month.

"I repeatedly expressed my frustration to the previous administration for dragging its feet in developing women contracting regulations," Snowe said in the letter. "I was further outraged when the proposed implementing regulations that were eventually produced - eight years after enactment of the law - did not provide the tools envisioned by Congress and basically thwarted the law's intent. Now, with over nine months having passed in this new Administration, I am deeply concerned that the regulations have yet to be established."

Snowe is also frustrated that the federal government has not met its goal of awarding five percent of Recovery Act contracts to women-owned small businesses. The group is the only socioeconomic category whose small business contracting goal has not been met or exceeded since the Recovery Act's passage.

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