Created on June 14, 2013
On Wednesday, May 8, 2013, Houston City Council approved Mayor Annise Parker’s recommended enhancements to the city’s 30-year-old goal-oriented Minority and Women-owned Business Enterprise (MWBE) contracting program. This action reinstated women-owned businesses into the program, and increased the participation of Minority and Women-owned business from 22 percent to 34 percent in the citywide construction goal.
Under these enhancements, the Office of Business Opportunity of Houston has implemented certain procedures to ensure the program’s effectiveness, including: reviewing the MWSBE Program every five years; expanding the geographic boundaries to include San Jacinto and Austin Counties; revising the Good Faith Efforts Policy requiring contractors to submit their plans for meeting the good faith efforts at the time of bid submission; implementing a three-year MWSBE certification; and standardizing department accountability for monitoring of good faith efforts.
In 2009, a lawsuit against the MWBE program resulted in the removal and replacement of women-owned businesses with Small Business Enterprises. However, in April 2012, a comprehensive construction industry disparity study indicated a need for a significant increase in citywide MWBE participation to reach construction goal.
Similar legislation has been introduced in cities across the nation. For example, Maryland’s Governor Martin O’Malley increased the overall state goal for Minority Business Enterprise Program from 25 percent to 29 percent. When the Maryland regulation proposal goes into effect, the 29 percent goal will be in place for Fiscal Years 2014 and 2015.
Back in January both Los Angeles and New York City put forth new mechanisms for increasing the participation of MBEs in securing government contracts. Los Angeles Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa signed Executive Directive No. 27 establishing the Office of Contractor Relations for the City of Los Angeles. The Mayor’s action put an emphasis on the steps the city will take to broaden contracting opportunity for minority-owned firms. Additionally, New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg signed into law Intro 911 which aims to increase the participation of minority and women-owned firms in city contracts by removing the program’s $1 million cap on contracts as well as increasing the value of program-eligible contracts from $400 million to $2.2 billion.