There was a flurry of regulatory activity last December and that activity continued right up until the last day of the year when FAR was amended to implement sole source authority for WOSBs. Below we summarize the interim rule, issued December 31, 2015, that amends FAR.
As we noted here, last September the U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA) published a final rule that grants federal agencies authority to make sole source awards to women-owned small businesses (WOSBs) and economically disadvantaged women-owned small businesses (EDWOSBs) in industries where set-asides are authorized – i.e., in industries which the SBA has determined to be underrepresented or substantially underrepresented by small businesses owned and controlled by women. The General Services Administration, the National Aeronautics and Space Administration, and the Department of Defense (collectively, the Federal Agencies), in turn, published an interim rule on December 31, 2015, that implements the SBA’s final rule by amending specific provisions in the Federal Acquisition Regulation (FAR) to reflect that the same eligibility requirements for participating in set-asides under the WOSB Program, set forth in SBA's regulations at 13 CFR 127.100 through 127.509, also apply to sole source acquisitions.
As amended by the interim rule, in general under FAR, an award under the WOSB program may be pursued on a sole source basis when the contracting officer does not have a reasonable expectation, through market research, that two or more eligible EDWOSB or WOSB concerns will submit offers at a fair and reasonable price, but identifies one responsible EDWOSB or WOSB that can perform at a fair and reasonable price. Additionally, as amended by the interim rule, FAR's dollar thresholds for sole source awards to WOSBs are equal to or less than $6.5 million for manufacturing requirements and equal to or less than $4 million for all other requirements, including all options.
Interested parties must submit comments to the Federal Agencies on or before February 29, 2016.