Despite budget fluctuations, women-owned businesses are maintaining their share of federal contracting dollars.

These businesses have maintained around 4 percent of the federal contracting market share — based on reported spending since fiscal 2010 — with about 80 percent of contract dollars held by the combined efforts of women-owned small businesses (WOSBs) and economically disadvantaged, women-owned small businesses (EDWOSBs).

While market share has remained relatively consistent with the rise and fall of federal spending, specific industries have shown more variation.

Growth in professional services

Federal contracts awarded to women-owned businesses are concentrated in program management, logistics, administrative support and other professional services.

After a decrease in spending in fiscal years 2011 and 2012, reported spending for professional services contracts increased by 3.8 percent in fiscal 2013, to $6.4 billion.

This increase is in contrast to the 5.4 percent decrease in spending across all business types based on reported spending for this industry. Even with a 90-day delay for Defense Department spending reports, more than $2.4 billion has been reported thus far in fiscal 2014 — representing 41 percent of contracts held by women-owned businesses.

Architecture, engineering and construction drop

While professional services may be on the rise for women-owned businesses, the architecture, engineering and construction industry reported a steep decline.

Spending levels for contracts held by women-owned businesses dropped 50 percent from fiscal 2010 to 2013—$2.3 billion less than the $4.5-billion industry of fiscal 2010. This decrease mirrored the overall federal spending decline for this industry of $32.4 billion over the same period.

Architecture, engineering and construction contracts represented 20 percent of all women-owned business contracts based on spending, but obligations to date for fiscal 2014 reflect only a 7 percent market share.

Looking ahead

In 2011, the Small Business Administration expanded contracting opportunities for women-owned small businesses and economically disadvantaged, women-owned small businesses. Fiscal 2011 also represented the first time contract spending data included markers for WOSB and EDWOSB set-aside actions.

However, maintaining a 4 percent-plus market share still does not reach the government-wide small business goal of 5 percent for WOSBs.

Only 0.2 percent of all WOSB-held contracts were awarded through WOSB or EDWOSB set-aside procurements. By fiscal 2013, this number increased to 1 percent, aided by an expansion to the SBA ruling effective May 7, 2013.

Women-owned businesses, small and large, must continue to pursue opportunities through all means of procurement to maintain and increase their portion of federal contracting dollars.

Kathleen Sievers is a senior research manager at Herndon-based Deltek, which conducts analysis on the government contracting market and can be found at

Market share of federal contracts held by women-owned small businesses