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With new ordinance, Boston aims to award more small contracts to MWBEs
Published on 01/02/2018

Last month, Boston's City Council passed the Equity in City of Boston Contracts Ordinance, which codifies a number of aspects of the already-existing programs and procedures that exist for the benefit of minority- and women-owned businesses (MWBEs) competing for city contracting dollars.

Under the measure, the City of Boston must to actively solicit bids from at least one MBE and at least one WBE if the relevant contract is under $50,000. Additionally, all RFPs issed by the city are required to include ratings for diversity and inclusion plans attached to those RFPs. The addition of these ratings as key metrics will also take place during the evaluation process for those RFPs.

Quarterly reporting from the city on who has won public contracts will be mandatory now too, in an attempt to address criticisms that the city has often awarded many contracts to the same businesses repeatedly, without adequate public knowledge regarding this process.

The city will also be obligated to start a supplier diversity program which will conduct active outreach to MWBEs, in the hopes of bringing them further into the city contracting process.

The passing of the ordinance follows on what some see as disappointing levels of growth in MWBE participation in Boston. In 2016, the administration of Mayor Marty Walsh set a goal of 10 percent to 15 percent of construction contracts under $500,000 going to minority-owned businesses. However, figures from a year later show just 2 percent of all city contracting dollars is going to minority-owned businesses.

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