of County Contracts with Minority, Female, and Disabled-Owned Businesses
Percent of County Contracts with Minority, Female, and Disabled-Owned Businesses
What is the story behind the curve?
Structural advantages for MFD firms. There are six different agencies/groups that can certify MFD vendors, and preferences exist for MFD and LSBRP contracts (a point advantage in the contracting process). Additionally, the County Council passed LSBRB rules and the Office of Procurement has MFD goals in place, which has created positive inertia for existing MFD firms to keep competing for contracts.
Assistance from the County. There is increased outreach to minority business organization (e.g. the black chamber of commerce), plus semi-annual seminars and forums hosted by the Office of Procurement and training is available to new firms. The County’s Office of Procurement has goals for contracting with MFD-owned business across four categories: Construction, Professional Services, Non-Professional Services, and Goods. The overall benchmark is 20%.
Increasing activity. The number of contracts to MFD firms has been increasing year-over-year. Many County businesses are owned by people of color and these vendors are becoming more familiar with doing business with the government.
No requirements for prime contractors. Currently, a prime contractor is not required to have MFD or LSBRP firms as subcontractors.
Office of Procurement practices. Current process and policies are cumbersome (requires technical skill to manage), customer service needs improvement, and the organization is still too paper-based. When a firm fails to get a contract, there is no feedback as to why or guidance on how to improve subsequent bids.
Institutional Racism. Institutional racism is built into the regulatory system. In addition, it seems like only certain minority groups get the contracts.
Leadership. MFD firms need leadership from the County Executive to make this a priority
Out-of County Competition. Competition from out-of-County MFD firms further disadvantage applicants.
Non-profits cannot get MFD certification.
What strategies do we recommend to turn the
1) Contracting requirements and increasing targets for MFD and LSBRP Firms.
a. The County Executive should set a requirement that a percentage of contracts must be given to MFD and LSBRP firms.
b. Procurement requirements should cover all groups (goods, industries, services, products, etc.) set in 1-A above
c. Set required targets within specific demographics and understand which minority groups are getting the contracts (are some groups being left out?) The demographics should match the business community (some disagreement that it should match the overall County residential population)
2) Improve procurement regulations and process.
Examine and remove burdensome regulations that hinder MFD and LSBRP vendors for competing for County contracts. The improved process should ensure a consistent experience across county departments.
3) Improve outreach and training on getting County contracts.
Simplify and improve outreach to help more firms get a County contract. One option would be to use the Office of Community Partnerships for outreach to specific communities.
4) Add a liaison role to promote MFD and Local Businesses.
The Procurement liaison would advocate for local, small businesses and ensure MFD and LSBRP firms are competing for County contracts.
5) Too many studies; need act on existing recommendations.
Mandate the County to implement the recommendations of the recent disparity study that showed low participation from African-American owned businesses.
6) Increase funding for minority business start-ups.
Give minority businesses funding to start businesses so that they can compete. Funding could be provided though the incubators and economic development programs.