As a member of the U.S. Women's Chamber of Commerce Breakthrough Coalition, I am asking concerned citizens of the Tucson area to help me lead Arizona to take action and help pass legislation to correct previous legislation that put dollar thresholds on government contracts with female-owned businesses.
Year after year, the federal government takes our tax dollars and spends our hard-earned revenues without regard for the legal and moral obligation to award female-owned firms their fair share of federal contracts.
Politicians talk about small and women-owned businesses, but what are they doing to correct legislation that has made it hard for many of us to do business with the government - not much, and since this is an election year we need to make our voices heard.
As a female business owner who just closed her business in part because of the poor economy, I am committed to no longer allowing politicians to proclaim their love of women without putting the money where their mouths are. We expect our fair share of federal contracts.
I am asking for your support for the Women's Procurement Program Improvement Act of 2012, which provides much-needed refinement of the restricted competition program and will make it more effective and easier for contracting officers to use, by removing three key problems: It removes contract dollar thresholds; it adds a sole-source program that is in alignment with the 8(a), HUBZone and Service Disabled Veteran programs, using the criteria for economically disadvantaged and industry underrepresentation already established for the existing program; and it removes the contracting officer's obligation to approve self-certifications, which has been a major obstacle to the favorable use of the program.
The Woman's Procurement Program Improvement Act of 2012, or HR 4201, has passed out of committee with bipartisan support, but is just sitting, waiting to be brought to the floor.
Hard to believe in this day and age, but female-owned firms have contracting dollar thresholds - the government will not let them compete for contracts over certain dollar amounts. Female-owned businesses are the only group in the country that has restrictions on contracting dollars. This is discrimination.
In 1994, Congress set the incredibly low 5 percent goal for contracting with women-owned firms. The federal government has never met this goal. The result is $90 billion in lost opportunities for women-owned firms.
Women own 30 percent of all firms in the U.S. and control $4.3 trillion of the $5.9 trillion spending in the U.S. and $20 trillion worldwide.
That being said, even though we are creating new businesses every day, revenues for female-owned businesses are stagnant. The statistics on government contracting are worse.
This issue affects far more than just the female-owned business. It affects all the employees and their families, it affects any suppliers and vendors that the business uses and thus the employees and families of those businesses. It affects those businesses' future expansion and thus jobs. It affects all those people who put food on the table, pay for housing, health care and retirement benefits.
Contact our congressional representatives, contact the White House, contact the Small Business Administration, contact the associations that you belong to, contact other business owners within your scope of influence and ask them to contact their government representatives. Remember, this is not just a female-owned-business issue; it is a business issue.
Nova Sipe lives in Tucson. Email her at email@example.com