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 programs. "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