White House Women's Meeting Seeks to Double Federal Contracts to Women-Owned Businesses

Women's Business Council Calls for Expansion of Affirmative Action Programs

Adopting Legal Petition to Include Women as a Presumed Disadvantaged Group

Sep 29, 1999, 01:00 ET from National Women's Business Council

    WASHINGTON, Sept. 29 /PRNewswire/ -- Fifteen prominent women business
 owners and advocates met with senior officials from the Clinton Administration
 in official session agreeing on a strategy to double contract awards to
 women-owned businesses.  Currently, woman are awarded only 2 percent of the
 $200 billion in federal contracts awarded each year -- far less than the
 5 percent mandated by Congress in 1994.
     In a separate action, the Council was presented with a legal petition to
 include women as a presumed group for eligibility in small disadvantaged
 business contracting programs.  The petition was prepared by the Women's
 Coalition for Access to Procurement, an ad hoc coalition of women's business
 organizations, and presented to SBA Administrator Aida Alvarez for action on
 Wednesday, September 22, 1999.  The Council agreed to call for public hearings
 on the petition so that women and minority business owners and advocates can
 have the opportunity to discuss the status and expansion of affirmative
     "Rather than dividing us, this petition must serve as [a] catalyst for all
 small minority and women-owned firms that have seen a drastic erosion of
 opportunities as a result of attacks on affirmative action programs and the
 federal government's massive streamlining efforts," said Kay Koplovitz,
 Chairperson of the National Women's Business Council.
     The semi-annual meeting of the National Women's Business Council was held
 last week in Washington, D.C., with officials of the White House's Interagency
 Committee on Women's Business Enterprise.  During the meeting they reached a
 consensus on several key initiatives, including a public-private sector task
 force that will target procurement opportunities at the federal government's
 five top purchasers.  Co-chairing the meeting was Diedre Lee, Director of the
 White House Office of Federal Procurement Policy and Kay Koplovitz, founder of
 USA Network and President Clinton's appointee to chair the National Women's
 Business Council.
     Council Chair Koplovitz, in a roundtable at the Capitol with the women
 senators, briefed the group on efforts to increase the flow of equity
 investments to women-led businesses, to relax regulations that prevent banks
 from collecting gender and race-based data on their loans, and the Council's
 partnership with the Milken Institute to identify alternative and innovative
 credit practices that have helped more women finance their businesses.  "We
 are committed to work actively with our elected officials to promote the
 interests of the 9.1 million women business owners.  This caucus marks the
 launch of a powerful alliance between women business leaders and those women
 elected to govern our nation," said Koplovitz.  Senator Landrieu (D-LA) called
 for semi-annual meetings between the Council and the nine women Senators to
 develop strategies for their mutual agendas.
     The National Women's Business Council is a bipartisan federal advisory
 panel established by Congress in 1998. Its mission is to advise the President
 and Congress on economic issues of importance to women entrepreneurs and to
 promote bold initiatives, policies and programs designed to support women's
 business enterprises at all stages of development both in the public and
 private sector marketplaces.

SOURCE National Women's Business Council