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City of Boston begins setting MWBE procurement goals

MA News - Published Apr 09, 2021

[UPDATE 04/08/21: The City of Boston Mayor's Office has issued a press release with further updates on its MWBE initiatives. These include: the reallocation of $2 million from the Boston Police Department to the Mayor’s Office of Economic Development with the goal of developing supplier diversity; hiring five full-time employees to develop the Supplier Diversity Program; and allocating $750,000 to a new Boston Contracting Opportunity Fund which will provide capacity development grants to WBEs, MBEs, VSBEs, and SLBEs. Read the press release at https://www.boston.gov/news/new-supplier-diversity-programs-foster-equity-city-contracting.]

The City of Boston has, up to the present, set small business participation goals in its public procurement through race- and gender-neutral measures. The completion of a recent disparity study into City contracting, however, has formed the basis for a new Executive Order from the office of Mayor Martin J. Walsh which now authorizes setting race- and gender-conscious participation goals, in addition to enacting several other reforms with the goal of increasing participation from minority- and woman-owned businesses (MWBEs).

The disparity study examined the period from July 1, 2014 through June 30, 2019, and found that while the City spent 11 percent of contracting dollars on MWBEs during that period, the measured availability of MWBEs stood at 16.9 percent, demonstrating a statistically significant underutilization. This finding will form the legal basis for etablishing legally defensible race- and gender-conscious participation goals. Accordingly, the Executive Order has set a goal of 25 percent MWBE utilization in City contracting per fiscal year.

The other reforms contained in the Executive Order include enforcing goal tracking and reporting across all City departments, overseen by the Office of Budget Management, with the goal of ensuring accurate data in documenting MWBE utilization; as well as the creation of a full Supplier Diversity Program with the goal of working across City departments to ensure full participation of MWBEs and providing assistance and development to MWBEs.

"We look forward to enacting meaningful reform and policy changes that will bolster opportunities for underrepresented businesses," said Mayor Walsh in a press release.

Read the press release from the City at https://www.boston.gov/news/disparity-study-completed-executive-order-signed-establishing-goals-minority-and-woman-owned.

Read the disparity study at https://www.boston.gov/economic-development/disparity-study-tool-towards-equitable-procurement.