Interactive Tool Helps the U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA) Monitor Disparities in Federal Procurement

To help provide a level playing field for women business owners, the SBA identified the updated list of industries where women-owned small businesses (WOSB) are substantially under-represented. 

In 2021, Optimal completed the WOSB NAICS Analysis, which built upon a previous RAND study. Using multiple years of federal procurement administrative data, Optimal researchers and data scientists, led by Mark Turner, Ph.D., examined trends and conducted in-depth analyses across all industries. To save time and costs, the Optimal research team developed an interactive Excel-based tool for SBA to simulate the impacts of varying thresholds for defining substantial under-representation. Going forward, this same tool can also be easily used to monitor disparities in federal government procurement. 

The study found that WOSBs were at parity in less than 18% of the industries based on the number of prime contracts. Additionally, WOSBs achieved parity in only 13% of industries based on contract dollars. With the intent of leveling the playing field, the WOSB Program limits competition for certain contracts to eligible participants in the industries that are substantially under-represented. In March 2022, the SBA released the updated list of industries that WOSBs are eligible for set aside and sole-source contracts. For more information, see:

Enabling Real-Time, Data-Driven Public Policy

Located at the University of Maryland's Discovery District, Optimal Solutions Group, LLC is an innovative and rigorous small minority-owned, policy research, data analytics and software development firm.

Optimal has worked with the SBA since 2010 in evaluating small business economic development programs and initiatives such as:

  • Regional Innovation Clusters
  • T.H.R.I.V.E Emerging Leaders Reimagined
  • HUBZone Program
  • Microloan Program
  • Boots-to-Business Veteran's Entrepreneurship
  • Women-Owned Small Businesses
  • Community Navigators Pilot Program

Optimal also brings actionable, evidence-based research on entrepreneurship, business assistance, and lending to multiple federal government agencies such as the National Institute of Standards and Technology's Manufacturing Extension Partnership (MEP) and the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID). Optimal provides these agencies with program and impact evaluations and data analytics to support accountability and continuous quality improvement.

If you'd like to know more about Optimal, our projects and how we can help you, please contact us at [email protected].

November 8, 2022

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