The Impact of Women-Owned Small Businesses on Federal Contracting in FY 23

Women's History Month in March is a time to honor and celebrate our women entrepreneurs! According to the National Women's Business Council 2023 Annual Report 14 million women owned businesses (WOB) make up 39% of all US Businesses, and has grown 13.6% from 2019 to 2023.  The  2022 Annual Business Survey which covers 2021, estimates that women owned businesses had an estimated $2.1 trillion in receipts and had an estimated 10.5 million employees. 

So how did our Women Owned Small Businesses (WOSB) do in FY 23 specifically in federal government contracting? While total federal contract awards reached an all time high of $775B in FY 23, only 3.2% or $25.49B was awarded to 13,707 woman owned small businesses.  Interestingly, 1,537 of the WOSBs were first-timers winning contracts!

WOSB numbers

Over the past five years, contracts awarded to Women-Owned Small Businesses (WOSBs) have consistently hovered around the 3.2% of total federal awards or $22B.   

Among the leading agencies in awarding contracts to Women-Owned Small Businesses (WOSBs), the Department of Defense agencies stand out with $12.3B, representing 48% of the total contracts awarded to WOSBs. Additionally, agencies like Health & Human Services, Homeland Security, GSA, the Department of Agriculture, and the Department of Veterans Affairs are also actively awarding contracts to WOSBs.

WOSBs by Agencies

Looking at the spend within each agency, many agencies, including HHS, DHS, GSA, Agriculture have seen an increase in the awards.  While we look at the total dollars obligated by these agencies, it is crucial to analyze the WOSB expenditure of these agencies in comparison to their total spending at the agency to gain a comprehensive understanding of the percentage of contracts they allocate to WOSBs.


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When analyzing the dollars awarded to Women-Owned Small Businesses (WOSBs), it's essential to not only focus on the overall amount but also consider the use of set-asides and sole-source awards. As illustrated in the graph, 3% of the awards were designated as WOSB Set-Asides, 0.34% as WOSB sole-source awards, and less than 0.12% as Economically Disadvantaged WOSB set-asides. Contrasting this with over 8% of contracts awarded as 8(a) sole-source and competed, as well as more than 20% that were awarded as small business set-asides, highlights the importance of paying attention to the use of set-asides to the WOSBs.  Seeing a rise in the utilization of WOSB/EDWOSB set-asides and sole-source awards will serve as a clear indicator of the success of the WOSB program.

As we understand the use of the set-aside program it is also important to understand the use of the NAICS codes, specifically for set-asides and sole source awards. No surprises to see computer related, engineering, construction and administrative services NAICS codes as the top codes for the awards to WOSB.Top NAICS WOSB

In terms of geography, it is no surprise that the states where the WOSBs winning contracts are located are in Virginia, Maryland, California, Florida and Texas.

WOB Top states


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Curious about the leading companies that have won contracts as Women-Owned Small Businesses in federal contracting for FY 23? Look no further than FCN Inc, Countertrade Products Inc, Blue Tech Inc, Software Information Resource Corp, DMS Pharmaceutical, Advanced Computer Concepts, First Nation Group, Sterling Computers, AccelGov, and Axle Informatics, with their impressive performance in securing federal contracts.

Reflecting on the data, it's clear that Women-Owned Small Businesses are still facing challenges, with awards hovering around the $22B mark and only accounting for 3.2% of total federal awards. The question arises - what steps are needed to achieve the federal government's 5% goal for WOSBs? In FY 23, reaching a 5% goal would mean $39B in awards, a target that, while ambitious, is certainly within reach.

It is crucial to recognize the challenges that federal agencies may be encountering. Should we consider expanding the list of eligible industries? Ensuring that our Contracting Officers are well-versed and comfortable with the WOSB/EDWOSB set-aside/sole source programs is essential.  While the US Small Business Administration has implemented programs to support women-owned businesses, we should also consider how to provide further training, mentorship, and access to capital, such as through the US SBA CapLine program, all of which could be beneficial in empowering women entrepreneurs.

Personally, I witness a strong dedication to empowering our women-owned businesses in my interactions with industry and federal agencies, and I remain optimistic about the possibility of reaching the 5% goal sooner rather than later!

Note: The data is based on Fedmine's analysis of FPDS data as of 3/18/24

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Archisha Mehan

Written by Archisha Mehan