Consulting services for states and local government for enhancing policies and programs related to business inclusion. This blog is all about how to increase opportunities for small businesses, social enterprises, and businesses owned by people of color and women. The Inclusive Business Initiative is a project of Tim Lohrentz. Follow me on twitter @biz_inclusion. Email: firstname.lastname@example.org / Phone: 415-250-7879.
Josh Smith focuses on fairness in federal procurement in his weekly radio show. Listen live in the Washington DC area at 2 pm Eastern on Tues., Dec. 22, or live-streamed. This week's show will feature the activities and views of the founder of the Fairness in Procurement Alliance (FPA), Mr. Raul Espinosa. The FPA came together in June 2005 as a loose alliance of 15 minority and small business advocacy groups to support a "size protest" case against a large business which had allegedly been committing fraud by misrepresenting its affiliation to win "set-aside contracts."
New American Media reports on its research of the participation of minority-owned businesses in the ‘America’s Recovery Capital’ loan guarantee program:
Loans handed out to struggling small businesses as part of President Barack Obama's stimulus package have largely shut out minority businesses -- especially those owned by Blacks and Latinos -- according to data provided by the federal government's Small Business Administration (SBA) to New America Media (NAM).
On June 15, the SBA, using money from the $787 billion American Recovery and Reinvestment Act, launched the ARC program, America's Recovery Capital, giving banks and credit unions 100 percent guarantees so they're taking no risk when they make loans of up to $35,000 to previously successful, currently struggling small businesses to help them ride out the recession.
Hundreds of federal agencies grant funds to states and local governments that are then utilized by those governments to procure goods and services. The Civil Rights Act of 1964 requires governments to provide equal opportunity for minorities (later extended to women) in the public procurement process. Yet, only two federal agencies require the grantees or sub-grantees (states and local government) to have a program to ensure that minority and women owned businesses (MWBEs) have equal opportunity of obtaining the federally-funded state or local contracts or sub-contracts: the U.S. Department of Transportation (USDOT) and the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA).
The USDOT first required states and local governments to set a 10% Disadvantaged Business Enterprise (DBE) goal with the passage of the Surface Transportation Assistance Act of 1982. Later USDOT expanded the requirement to aviation and transit grantees and also allowed grantees to set their own goals based on local firm availability. After passage of the 1990 Clean Air Act, the EPA began requiring grantees to set DBE Fair Share goals.
Several federal agencies provide millions of dollars each year to states and local governments, much of which is spent through the procurement of goods and services, including the Departments of Agriculture, Commerce, Education, Health & Human Services, Labor, Energy, and Housing and Urban Development. For example, each year thousands of universities, school districts, and charter schools receive federal grants or sub-grants from the Department of Education. These grantees are told to comply with the equal opportunity contracting provisions of the Civil Rights Act, yet they are given no guidelines or resources. Nor is there any monitoring or accountability of performance on this provision.
When the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (ARRA) passed, many clamored for making sure the contracts went out to diverse communities and tracking the funding stream. Yet aside from USDOT and EPA funds, there was no infrastructure to do this. It is time for all federal agencies, using uniform program guidelines and uniform certification processes, to require all grantees and sub-grantees to comply with the 1964 Civil Rights Act by setting goals, including outreach to diverse businesses, and setting up an infrastructure through state/local MWBE offices or USDOT-funded DBE offices. And I can help them do that.
I had the pleasure of making a presentation at the MBDA’s
MBE Summit in early July on MBE programs at the state level. I was joined on
the panel by Glenn Delgado, NASA Small Business Program, who spoke about
federal programs, and Steven Sims, of the National Minority Supplier
Development Council, who spoke about corporate and private sector programs. The
MBDA blog has covered this panel, http://mbdagov.wordpress.com/2009/07/29/mbda-summit-mbe-programs/.
You can also find links to other summit sessions from there. One of our close state MWBE
director colleagues, Alice Watson of Indiana participated.
City Administrator Craig Malin said a number of recommendations
from Mason Tillman are already in the works, and will be brought
before the council for approval soon. Then, city staff will work on
Recommendations include expanding the city's Disadvantaged Business
Program, starting a micro-loan program, establishing a set goal for
minority and African-American contracting, and creating an
ordinance that would prohibit bidders from negotiating separate
affirmative action agreements outside the city's purview.
In an end run around collecting citizen signatures to place a measure on the state ballot, Arizona's legislators have voted to place a measure on the state ballot which would ban certain measures designed to help level the playing field in education, employment, and public contracting. A 2008 effort to collect signatures to have the same measure place on the ballot failed after it failed to collect enough valid signatures. A similar measure failed to pass in Colorado in 2008 while passing in Nebraska.
The Arizona measure would forbid the state and local governments from taking certain measures to guarantee equal opportunities on public contracts, measures that are backed by federal law. Programs operated by the cities of Phoenix and Tucson, as well as Maricopa and Pima counties, might be impacted if the measure were to pass.