The WOSB Program History and 2019 Changes

Person sitting at a table writing on paper

The Women-Owned Small Business (WOSB) program began in December of 2000. Public Law 106-554 established this program to help the federal government meet its goal of awarding at least 5% of all contracting dollars to women-owned small businesses. To qualify as a women-owned small business, you must be at least 51% directly owned and controlled by one or more women and be considered “small” as defined by the relevant North American Industry Classification System (NAICS) code.

Throughout the years, the WOSB program has gone through several changes, and most recently, there have been proposed changes that could significantly impact the program. Before we dig into those changes, lets take a look at where the WOSB program has been.


  • 2011: In April of 2011, the new Federal Acquisitions Regulation (FAR) implemented the WOSB program and limited the number of eligible industries that can qualify for the women’s contracting program. As a result of this change, 38 industries were eligible for Economically Disadvantaged Women-Owned Small Businesses (EDWOSBs) and 45 industries for WOSBs.
  • 2014: In December of 2014, the National Defense Authorization Act of 2015 ended the self-certification program and provided sole source authority.
  • 2015: In October of 2015, the Federal Acquisitions Regulation (FAR) implemented the sole source process, meaning sole source authority is allowed in industries in which WOSB and EDWOSB set asides are offered.
  • 2016: In March of 2016, the eligible industries for WOSB and EDWOSB companies were revised and expanded. A Department of Commerce study was released and provided information which led to the revised and expanded industries. 27 industries changed designation between WOSB and EDWOSB, six industries were removed, and 36 industries were added.
  • 2017: In October of 2017, NAICS 2017, a NAICS code update, led to the WOSB and EDWOSB industries being revised to a total of 112. If you would like to see a list of the current NAICS that qualify for the WOSB program, they can be found on the Small Business Administration (SBA) website.

Proposed Changes for 2019

This leads us to the recent proposed WOSB program changes. In May of 2019, the SBA published a proposed rule outlining the following changes:

  • WOSB certification can be accepted from SBA-approved third parties and certain identified government entities.
  • There will be eligibility under the WOSB program as long as your application is pending.
  • A free electronic application process will be available for companies who want to be WOSB and EDWOSB-certified.
  • The SBA will adjust the economically disadvantaged threshold in the 8(a) Business Development program to make it consistent with EDWOSB thresholds.

Why all the changes?

Currently, SBA has some difficulty processing applications, such as WOSB, 8(a), and HUBZone, due to the sheer number of applicants. The proposed changes will ease administrative burden, increase speed and efficiency, and save money by using an electronic-based platform.

Altogether, the proposed WOSB program changes are targeted toward the goal of increasing the number of WOSBs that win Federal contracts.

JetCo Federal is a WBENC-certified woman-owned small business based in Grand Rapids, Michigan. We have a robust supply chain of high-quality manufacturers and strong past performance. Interested in becoming a supplier for us? Contact us.

Share this entry