Minorities and women seek bigger share of L.A. city contracts
Chicago Tribune: Local groups representing African American, Latino and Asian businesses are calling for reforms to steer 35% of the the city governments $1.1 billion in annual contracts into small businesses and firms owned by women, racial minorities, and disabled veterans. So far, they have the support of the Los Angeles mayor, who has also promised more transparency in awarding contracts.
"Local minority businesses are pushing for reforms they say will get more of the Los Angeles city government's $1.1 billion in annual contracts into the hands of such firms and those owned by women and service-disabled military veterans. A report advocating the reforms "The Case for Minority Business Contracting Reform in the City of Los Angeles," was released Oct. 19 by the Greater Los Angeles African American Chamber of Commerce. It argued that the proposals would contribute to the city's overall economic recovery.
The report called for the city to steer 35% of the contractual funds to small, local businesses owned by racial minorities and women. An additional 8% would go to businesses owned by service-disabled veterans. Minority-owned firms now get 7% of those funds. Still, small firms said they have trouble even finding jobs to bid on because the city's several dozen departments often post contract opportunities separately. The small businesses also say that all too often business contracts are awarded based on relationships that deep-pocketed firms have an easier time establishing.
Los Angeles Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa who spoke at the news conference where the contract reform report was unveiled, has promised more transparency in awarding contracts and said his office would complete an executive directive by the end of the year to implement changes to procurement policies. 'This isn't just the right thing to do; it's a smart, business-savvy thing to do in a city that's probably close to 70% of color," Villaraigosa said. "A larger pool of qualified bidders will result in more competitive bidding, and thus the goal is more savings for the city and a recycling of dollars in our community.'"