Judge Denies SBA Motion to Dismiss U.S. Women’s Chamber of Commerce Claim, Gives SBA 45 Days to Report Progess
WASHINGTON, Oct. 3 -- The U.S. Women’s Chamber of Commerce’s nearly year-old claim against the Small Business Administration has received a strong message of support. The U.S. Women’s Chamber of Commerce claim against the SBA seeks the implementation of a five-year-old law that would expand opportunities in the federal marketplace for women business owners in industries that have historically been closed to them.
On Friday, Sept. 30, U.S. District Court Judge Reggie B. Walton issued an order denying the Small Business Administration’s Motion to Dismiss the USWCC Claim and ordered that the SBA provide the court a written statement of the progress made towards implementation of the law.
“This is great news for women business owners,” said Margot Dorman - CEO of the U.S. Women’s Chamber of Commerce. “After five years of waiting, we are very happy to find that our American legal system works, even when our executive branch does not.”
“This law establishing the Women’s Federal Procurement Program was passed by a bi-partisan action of Congress and signed into law by President Clinton in December of 2000,” continued Dorfman. “Even so, the Small Business Administration and Administrator Hector Barreto have found every way possible to drag the feet of government rather than support women business owners.”
“With this action by the court, we believe the SBA will finally have to establish a reasonable timeline for the implementation of the law -- and keep it,” continues Dorfman.
“Year after year the SBA has set deadlines and failed to keep them. But now, the court will be watching.”
In 1994 the Federal Acquisition Streamlining Act established a modest goal of 5 percent purchasing with women. In 2000, as federal purchasing from women-owned businesses was only 2.28 percent, congress acted to support women by passing the “Equity in Contracting Act for Women.”
Over the next several years the SBA set and missed numerous deadlines to implement this law. Meanwhile the percentage of contracting with women continued to be grossly disproportionate to the growing number of women-owned firms. Approximately 35 percent of all businesses in the U.S. are owned by women, but in 2004 women-owned firms secure only slightly more than 3 percent of all federal contracting dollars.
On September 24, 2004, members of the USWCC met with SBA Administrator Barreto to discuss the reason for the delay in implementation of the law. During this meeting, Administrator Barreto indicated that the goals in the Act were meaningless and that there were no consequences if the government failed to meet these goals. He then stated in response to a question asking when the law would be implemented that, “this administration has no intention of implementing that program.”
In October 2004, the U.S. Women’s Chamber of Commerce filed a claim against the SBA and Administrator Barreto seeking to compel the SBA to implement the law. The SBA countered with a Motion to Dismiss.
On May 26, 2005, seventy-one members of congress filed an amicus brief in support of the U.S. Women’s Chamber of Commerce claim against the SBA. As of today (1747 days since this program was signed into law), the Women’s Federal Procurement Program has still not been implemented.
On Friday, September 16, 2005 Judge Walton ordered the Small Business Administration to provide the Court with a status report pertaining to the status of the draft study and proposed regulations. On Friday, September 30, 2005 Judge Walton issued an order denying the SBA Motion to Dismiss the USWCC Claim and ordered that, within 45 days of the issuance of the Memorandum Opinion, the SBA must advise the Court in writing of the progress it has made on completing the study and the proposed regulations.
The U.S. Women’s Chamber of CommerceT (www.uswomenschamber.com) is the pre-eminent national women’s chamber of commerce network whose mission is to develop leaders, accelerate economic growth and provide a community voice for women. Membership in the USWCC, a not-for-profit 501(c)6 organization founded in 2001, includes supporting members, councils, association members and strategic alliances across the U.S. Creating and representing the next generation of leadership for women, the USWCC is women’s connection to influence, education, opportunity and advancement. Its headquarters offices are located in Washington, D.C.
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