Written by Tunisha W. Walker, Senior Vice President, Capalino+Company
New York City and State have made tremendous strides with regards to the implementation and enforcement of Minority and Women-Owned Business Enterprise (MWBE) procurement guidelines, providing increased opportunities for MWBEs to secure new government contracts.
Over the past several months, the City has increased the number of certified MWBEs to over 5,000, and the State now has over 8500, but this is just one milestone. Despite their best efforts to amplify the number of contracts awarded to MWBEs, MWBEs continue to receive a significantly smaller share of City and State procurement dollars. In 2016, the City procured $15.3 billion worth of goods and services, but only 4.8% went to MWBEs. More effort is needed by government and the private sector to ensure that women and minorities have a fair shot at these opportunities.
Here are a few recommendations for bridging the gap:
1. Stronger Enforcement
One of the biggest roadblocks to achieving full MWBE participation is a lack of enforcement and accountability for companies who avoid using MWBEs, or contractors who delay or fail to pay MWBEs for services rendered. Investing in meaningful oversight throughout City and State agencies- including increasing penalties, removing loopholes or hiring additional compliance officers- would increase confidence in the system and go a long way to helping the City and State realize their MWBE goals.
2. Develop a More Inclusive and Innovative Approach to Contracting
City and State agencies should avoid using the same shortlist of MWBE suppliers, and instead find ways to attract new MWBE vendors. Local, City and State governments should continue to actively reach out to the surrounding community, including minority and women-owned businesses, small businesses and entrepreneurs. Take stock of innovative companies that are entering the market, as well as industries where MWBEs have not previously operated in, and figure out how to utilize their services. This is the best way to ensure that MWBEs are competing on a level playing field.
3. Implement Recommendations from the MWBE Disparity Study
New York State identified a variety of barriers that have impaired participation of MWBEs in State contracting opportunities. The State should implement the study’s recommended programs and policies in order to overcome these challenges and increase access, resources, and business opportunities for the MWBE community.
4. Leverage Private Sector Partnerships
At Capalino+Company, we work at the intersection of business, government and the community. I’ve seen firsthand how a successful public-private initiative can deliver positive outcomes for stakeholders.
Leveraging the resources and expertise of the private sector, especially those businesses who are already working with MWBEs, may provide City and State agencies with actionable insights and practical recommendations for boosting participation and creating new avenues for MWBEs to connect with procurement opportunities.
According to the NYC Comptroller, MWBEs comprise just over half of all firms in New York City, with 539,447 minority-owned firms and 413,899 women-owned firms, representing an important part of the City and State’s business community and a powerful economic engine for the City. By increasing opportunities for women and minorities, and continuing to work towards a level playing field, we can help New York unleash the full potential of its diverse business communities.
If you are an MWBE seeking to do business with the City or State, or a non-MWBE seeking assistance with fulfilling MWBE goal requirements, contact the Tunisha W. Walker at firstname.lastname@example.org
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