$25,000 or more in major industry groups, defined by 2-digit Standard Industrial Classification codes. Prior to finalizing the CAWBO study, the SBA decided to obtain independent expert review of the relevant contracting data and estimation methods. The Committee on National Statistics of the National Academies was asked to conduct the review.

The committee established the Steering Committee on Women-Owned Small Businesses to plan a workshop to review existing data and methods for the SBA to use to analyze information on the use of women-owned small businesses in federal contracting. The steering committee members were selected for their expertise in statistical methods and research on disparities and discrimination. The committee did not include representatives of women-owned businesses in order to avoid the appearance of bias or conflict of interest.

Discussion topics for the workshop were to include the accuracy, soundness, and reliability of data and analytical methods to ascertain the use of women-owned small businesses in federal contracting; the definition of “underrepresentation” and “substantial underrepresentation” in the SBA draft report; appropriate regression methods (and other methods if necessary) to investigate correlates of gender disparities; the potential usefulness of additional variables in the analysis (e.g., firm size); the appropriate study sample size for further or extended studies; the appropriate amount of historical data for analysis; and methods and analyses that could help the SBA explain any identified industry-specific disparities and be of use in determining any remedial action.

At the workshop, held on April 30-May 1, 2004, the steering committee heard from staff of the SBA and the U.S. Department of Defense about small business contracting and discussed definitional issues, estimation methodology, and available data (see Appendix A). The committee also reviewed findings of a recent report of a panel of the Committee on National Statistics on measuring racial discrimination (National Research Council, 2004). Because of limited resources, this report is based primarily on the workshop materials and discussions.


This report contains six chapters and two appendixes. Chapter 2 discusses the legal framework within which a new women-owned small business contracting set-aside program would operate. Chapter 3 describes the federal contracting process with regard to small businesses. This process needs to be understood in order to develop meaningful models for the many potential causes of gender-based statistical disparities. Contracting at the Department of Defense is used as a case study, because that department has been responsible in recent years for approximately 50 percent of total

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