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Governor Inslee issues contracting equity order and revises MWVBE guidance

WA News - Published Jan 17, 2022

Governor Jay Inslee has announced that he is signing one executive order on Equity in Public Contracting (EO 22-01) and, additionally, rescinding Directive 98-01, an earlier directive issued by then-Governor Gary Locke in 1998, which provided state agencies with guidance on implement Initiative 200 (I-200), the state's law on affirmative action.

EO 22-01 requires executive and small cabinet agencies to adopt a number of measures with the goal of increasing contracting equity for minority-, women-, and veteran-owned businesses (MWVBEs), including: requiring contracting agencies to perform outreach to MWVBEs; requiring the Office of Minority and Women's Business Enterprises (OMWBE) to improve their electronic data tracking in order to both track participation better and improve their directory; requiring all agencies to measure their MWVBE participation using the state's Access Equity tool; and requiring the Washington State Department of Transportation (WSDOT) and the Department of Enterprise Services (DES) to review their requirements on bonding, insurance, retainage, and experience with the goal of increasing MWVBE equity.

The rescission of Directive 98-01 comes along with the expected issuance, within 10 days from the rescission (which took place on January 7th, 2022) of a new executive order containing guidance on achieving contract equity within the legal bounds of the still-in-force I-200, which banned affirmative action in the state. Directive 98-01 contained language forbidding the use of preference points and price preferences in awarding contracts.

"This executive order is one of many important steps towards equity that will be instrumental in facilitating the cultural changes statewide necessary to address the lack of opportunities for these businesses identified in the 2019 Disparity Study," Governor Inslee said in a press release.

Read the press release at https://www.governor.wa.gov/news-media/inslee-signs-executive-order-equity-public-contracting-and-announces-intention-rescind.