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Executive Orders

Executive Order 12138--Creating a National Women's Business Enterprise Policy and prescribing arrangements for developing, coordinating and implementing a national program for women's business enterprise

Source: The provisions of Executive Order 12138 of May 18, 1979, appear at 44 FR 29637, 3 CFR, 1979 Comp., p. 393, unless otherwise noted.

In response to the findings of the Interagency Task Force on Women Business Owners and congressional findings that recognize:
1. the significant role which small business and women entrepreneurs can play in promoting full employment and balanced growth in our economy;
2. the many obstacles facing women entrepreneurs; and
3. the need to aid and stimulate women's business enterprise;

By the authority vested in me as President of the United States of America, in order to create a National Women's Business Enterprise Policy and to prescribe arrangements for developing, coordinating and implementing a national program for women's business enterprise, it is ordered as follows:

1-1. Responsibilities of the Federal Departments and Agencies.

1-101. Within the constraints of statutory authority and as otherwise permitted by law:
(a) Each department and agency of the Executive Branch shall take appropriate action to facilitate, preserve and strengthen women's business enterprise and to ensure full participation by women in the free enterprise system.
(b) Each department and agency shall take affirmative action in support of women's business enterprise in appropriate programs and activities including but not limited to:
(1) management, technical, financial, and procurement assistance,
(2) business-related education, training, counselling and information dissemination, and
(3) procurement.
(c) Each department or agency empowered to extend Federal financial assistance to any program or activity shall issue regulations requiring the recipient of such assistance to take appropriate affirmative action in support of women's business enterprise and to prohibit actions or policies which discriminate against women's business enterprise on the ground of sex. For purposes of this subsection, Federal financial assistance means assistance extended by way of grant, cooperative agreement, loan or contract other than a contract of insurance of guaranty. These regulations shall prescribe sanctions for noncompliance. Unless otherwise specified by law, no agency sanctions shall be applied until the agency or department concerned has advised the appropriate person or persons of the failure to comply with its regulations and has determined that compliance cannot be secured by voluntary means.

1-102. For purposes of this Order, affirmative action may include, but is not limited to, creating or supporting new programs responsive to the special needs of women's business enterprise, establishing incentives to promote business or business-related opportunities for women's business enterprise, collecting and disseminating information in support of women's business enterprise, and insuring to women's business enterprise knowledge of and ready access to business-related services and resources. If, in implementing this order, an agency undertakes to use or to require compliance with numerical set-asides, or similar measures, it shall state the purpose of such measure, and the measure shall be designed on the basis of pertinent factual findings of discrimination against women's business enterprise and the need for such measure.

1-103. In carrying out their responsibilities under Section 1-1, the departments and agencies shall consult the Department of Justice, and the Department of Justice shall provide legal guidance concerning these responsibilities.

1-2. Establishment of the Interagency Committee on Women's Business Enterprise.

1-201. To help insure that the actions ordered above are carried out in an effective manner, I hereby establish the Interagency Committee on Women's Business Enterprise (hereinafter called the Committee).

1-202. The Chairperson of the Committee (hereinafter called the Chairperson) shall be appointed by the President. The Chairperson shall be the presiding officer of the Committee and shall have such duties as prescribed in this Order or by the Committee in its rules of procedure. The Chairperson may also represent his or her department, agency or office on the Committee.

1-203. The Committee shall be composed of the Chairperson and other members appointed by the heads of departments and agencies from among high level policy-making officials. In making these appointments, the recommendations of the Chairperson shall be taken into consideration. The following departments and agencies and such other departments and agencies as the Chairperson shall select shall be members of the Committee: the Departments of Agriculture; Commerce; Defense; Energy; Health and Human Services; Housing and Urban Development; Interior; Justice; Labor; Transportation; Treasury; the Federal Trade Commission; General Services Administration; National Science Foundation; Office of Federal Procurement Policy; and the Small Business Administration. These members shall have a vote. Nonvoting members shall include the Executive Director of the Committee and at least one but no more than three representatives from the Executive Office of the President appointed by the President.

[Sec. 1-203 amended by Executive Order 12608 of Sept. 9, 1987, 52 FR 34617, 3 CFR, 1987 Comp., p. 245]

1-204. The Committee shall meet at least quarterly at the call of the Chairperson, and at such other times as may be determined to be useful according to the rules of procedure adopted by the Committee.

1-205. The Administrator of the Small Business Administration shall provide an Executive Director and adequate staff and administrative support for the Committee. The staff shall be located in the Office of the Chief Counsel for Advocacy of the Small Business Administration, or in such other office as may be established specifically to further the policies expressed herein. Nothing in this Section prohibits the use of other properly available funds and resources in support of the Committee.

1-3. Functions of the Committee. The Committee shall in a manner consistent with law:

1-301. Promote, coordinate and monitor the plans, programs and operations of the departments and agencies of the Executive Branch which may contribute to the establishment, preservation and strengthening of women's business enterprise. It may, as appropriate, develop comprehensive interagency plans and specific program goals for women's business enterprise with the cooperation of the departments and agencies.

1-302. Establish such policies, definitions, procedures and guidelines to govern the implementation, interpretation and application of this order, and generally perform such functions and take such steps as the Committee may deem to be necessary or appropriate to achieve the purposes and carry out the provisions hereof.

1-303. Promote the mobilization of activities and resources of State and local governments, business and trade associations, private industry, colleges and universities, foundations, professional organizations, and volunteer and other groups toward the growth of women's business enterprise, and facilitate the coordination of the efforts of these groups with those of the departments and agencies.

1-304. Make an annual assessment of the progress made in the Federal Government toward assisting women's business enterprise to enter the mainstream of business ownership and to provide recommendations for future actions to the President.

1-305. Convene and consult as necessary with persons inside and outside government to develop and promote new ideas concerning the development of women's business enterprise.

1-306. Consider the findings and recommendations of government and private sector investigations and studies of the problems of women entrepreneurs, and promote further research into such problems.

1-307. Design a comprehensive and innovative plan for a joint Federal and private sector effort to develop increased numbers of new women-owned businesses and larger and more successful women-owned businesses. The plan should set specific reasonable targets which can be achieved at reasonable and identifiable costs and should provide for the measurement of progress towards these targets at the end of two and five years. Related outcomes such as income and tax revenues generated, jobs created, new products and services introduced or new domestic or foreign markets created should also be projected and measured in relation to costs wherever possible. The Committee should submit the plan to the President for approval within six months of the effective date of this Order.

1-4. Other Responsibilities of the Federal Departments and Agencies.

1-401. The head of each department and agency shall designate a high level official to have the responsibility for the participation and cooperation of that department or agency in carrying out this Executive order. This person may be the same person who is the department or agency's representative to the Committee.

1-402. To the extent permitted by law, each department and agency upon request by the Chairperson shall furnish information, assistance and reports and otherwise cooperate with the Chairperson and the Committee in the performance of their functions hereunder. Each department or agency shall ensure that systematic data collection processes are capable of providing the Committee current data helpful in evaluating and promoting the efforts herein described.

1-403. The officials designated under Section 1-401, when so requested, shall review the policies and programs of the women's business enterprise program, and shall keep the Chairperson informed of proposed budget, plans and programs of their departments or agencies affecting women's business enterprise.

1-404. Each Federal department or agency, within constraints of law, shall continue current efforts to foster and promote women's business enterprise and to support the program herein set forth, and shall cooperate with the Chairperson and the Committee in increasing the total Federal effort.

1-5. Reports.

1-501. The Chairperson shall, promptly after the close of the fiscal year, submit to the President a full report of the activities of the Committee hereunder during the previous fiscal year. Further, the Chairperson shall, from time to time, submit to the President the Committee's recommendations for legislation or other action to promote the purposes of this Order.

1-502. Each Federal department and agency shall report to the Chairperson as hereinabove provided on a timely basis so that the Chairperson and the Committee can consider such reports for the Committee report to the President.

1-6. Definitions. For the purposes of this Order, the following definitions shall apply:

1-601. "Women-owned business" means a business that is at least 51 percent owned by a woman or women who also control and operate it. "Control" in this context means exercising the power to make policy decisions. "Operate" in this context means being actively involved in the day-to-day management.

1-602. "Women's business enterprise" means a woman-owned business or businesses or the efforts of a woman or women to establish, maintain or develop such a business or businesses.

1-603. Nothing in subsections 1-601 or 1-602 of this Section (1-6) should be construed to prohibit the use of other definitions of a woman-owned business or women's business enterprise by departments and agencies of the Executive Branch where other definitions are deemed reasonable and useful for any purpose not inconsistent with the purpose of this Order. Wherever feasible, departments and agencies should use the definition of a woman-owned business in subsection 1-601 above for monitoring performance with respect to women's business enterprise in order to assure comparability of data throughout the Federal Government.

1-7. Construction. Nothing in this Order shall be construed as limiting the meaning or effect of any existing Executive order.