Only 1% of the U.S. Energy Department's contracting budget went to women-owned small businesses in the fiscal year that ended Sept. 30, data show. A set-aside program that allows federal agencies to reserve contracts for women-owned businesses, established two years ago, is still in a "ramp-up" period, says Michele Chang, the Small Business Administration's deputy chief of staff. The government as a whole failed to meet its goal of funneling 5% of contracting dollars to women-owned small businesses, but some agencies were more successful than others.

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