Governor Paterson Submits Legislation to Expand MWBE Opportunities in New York
ALBANY, NY (04/14/2010)(readMedia)-- Governor David A. Paterson today submitted legislation to expand the procurement opportunities for Minority and Women-Owned Business Enterprises (MWBEs) in New York State. The Governor's Program Bill would enact the recommendations made by the MWBE Task Force, which the Governor created to review the State's utilization of MWBE underwriters and other professional services. Their final report, issued last month, outlined legislation to improve MWBE access to procurement processes and promote the use of MWBE and non-MWBE firms that have sound diversity practices.
"New York is the business capital of the world, leading the way toward prosperity, and as such we should be leaders in minority entrepreneurship," Governor Paterson said. "The legislation that I have submitted today will ensure that the progress of the MWBE Task Force continues for years to come, bringing permanent change and reform to the way New York does business. By doing so, we not only help businesses thrive, we will help our State recover from recession."
The proposed legislation would provide a framework so that MWBEs may participate in the State's procurements and establishes standards to hold State agencies and public authorities accountable for their commitment to MWBE participation and diversity in the area of procurement. The legislation would also ensure that State entities review the proposer's employment practices and hiring practices, wherever practicable, feasible and appropriate, to promote the State's interest in contracting with firms with a commitment to a diverse workforce.
The key provisions of the legislation would:
• Require the Director of the Division of Minority and Women Owned Business Development ("DMWBD") to set regulations requiring State agencies to assess the diversity practices of contractors submitting bids or proposals in connection with the award of a State contract, where practicable, feasible and appropriate.
• Require appointing officials to consider the prospective diversity of a public authority board when making a determination to appoint a member.
• Increase from $100,000 to $200,000 the amount of goods and services the State can purchase without a formal competitive process from MWBEs and small businesses, or when they are recycled.
• Enhance the penalties for contractors that willfully or intentionally disregard their responsibilities to utilize MWBE firms. Such enhanced penalties include debarment of contractors from submitting bids to any contracting agency for a period of up to one year, or up to five years if a second violation occurs within a five-year period.
The legislation would also require that each State authority's procurement guidelines do the following:
• Designate one or more senior staff of the authority to oversee the authority's programs established to promote and assist participation by MWBE enterprises in the authority's procurement contracts and to promote sound diversity practices on the part of other contractors, suppliers and consultants engaged by the authority;
• Require broad outreach to MWBEs;
• Establish appropriate goals for participation by MWBEs in procurement contracts awarded by the authority and for the utilization of MWBEs as subcontractors and suppliers by entities having procurement contracts with the authority;
• Require that the evaluation criteria for awarding any procurement contract (other than contracts required by law to be awarded to the lowest responsible bidder pursuant to sealed bids) include an assessment of the proposer's diversity practices to the extent practicable, feasible and appropriate; and
• Enhance reporting with respect to the utilization of MWBEs and the submission of an annual report by the DMWBD assessing the effectiveness of each State entity's MWBE program. Require that the annual procurement report prepared by every State authority include a listing of all contracts entered into with a certified MWBE, including the subject matter and value of such contracts and a summary of all complaints referred to DMWBD.
"This legislation lays the foundation for a new generation of business owners who will create economic opportunities for people who desperately need it. Together we will renew the promise of our State and rekindle the spirit of entrepreneurship that has made New York the Empire State," Governor Paterson added.
The following quotes were provided in support of the Governor's Program Bill to expand MWBE opportunities:
Senate Majority Conference Leader John L. Sampson said: "Diversity is good for business. It fosters competition and helps develop greater opportunities for women and minority owned enterprises that will spur the economy. Enhancing the success of MWBEs in securing financial and professional services contracts as well as diversifying assessment practices for vendors is critical to improving the prospects of MWBEs across the State. I commend Governor Paterson for submitting this legislation based upon the Task Force recommendations."
Senator Ruth Hassell-Thompson said: "The advancement of MWBEs has been an issue that I have dedicated myself to throughout my career and I am pleased to see this comprehensive package of legislation. New York has many talented individuals of diverse backgrounds and it is time that the State utilizes their skills. My colleagues and I will be reviewing the Governor's proposals and using them as a framework to strengthen the State's ability to provide increased opportunities for minority and women-owned business enterprises."
Senator Bill Perkins said: "I congratulate the Governor on the introduction of this historic legislation that will greatly enhance the participation of the MWBE community in our State's professional service contracts. I am also confident that the recently enacted Public Authorities Reform Act will play a prominent role in this important effort."
Senator Andrea Stewart-Cousins said: "Despite having 8,000 certified MWBE firms, the third largest in the nation, New York State awards only 5% of its contracts to MWBEs, ranking 12 th in the nation. New York State can do a better job of contracting with MWBEs. This legislation will assist with that goal by ensuring that procurement opportunities are more readily accessible for all New Yorkers, especially small businesses and minority and women owned business. We must have not only a competitive workforce, but a diverse one for the State's economy to be revitalized and to remain strong well into the future."
Senator Antoine Thompson said: "The laws pertaining to Minority and Women Business Enterprises (MWBE) were created over twenty years ago and the reform of this legislation is long over due. Ensuring that opportunities are not only available to all businesses but holding State Agencies accountable for using MWBEs is essential for these policies to make a difference. This legislation gives teeth to the current laws by establishing the goals and benchmarks for State Agencies to follow and achieve throughout the procurement process."
Assemblyman Richard Brodsky said: "We made enormous progress in MWBE reform in the Public Authorities Reform Act. The Governor's new initiative, which closely mirrors our own legislative proposals, is an additional step forward and I congratulate him and the MWBE task force."
Assemblywoman RoAnn Destito said: "Certified MWBE businesses have the potential to drive economic recovery and expand economic opportunity throughout the State of New York. I feel we have a tremendous opportunity to provide more robust support for MWBEs and small businesses in order to improve the economic health of our State. Therefore, I applaud the Governor for advancing the dialogue on how best to support small and MWBE businesses by submitting this legislation today. The Assembly will continue to fight on behalf of MWBEs, and for New York State businesses as a whole, during these difficult fiscal times, and looks forward to taking action with our partners in government this session on this most important economic development issue."
Assemblyman Felix Ortiz said: "I applaud the efforts made by the Governor to expand MWBE opportunities in New York. We, as public servants, need to ensure that our State continues to utilize businesses that are minority and women owned. New York itself is extremely diverse, and our State Agencies' procurements should reflect this rich diversity."
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