CHICAGO (May 17, 2018)— Gov. Bruce Rauner today moved to increase the participation of minority-owned businesses in the state procurement process. By Executive Order 18-07, he established the Illinois African American Fair Contracting Commission and made it possible for contracts to be cancelled if African-American participation goals are not being met.

The moves are among a series of recommendations from a task force created with the passage of the Fair Practices in Contracting Act.  Headed by Chicago businessman Willie Wilson, the group was formed in 2016 and is responsible for making recommendations to address disparities in the award of contracts to African-American-owned businesses.

The Task Force was formed recognizing that African Americans represent 10% of business ownership in Illinois, yet only 1% of the total spending of the State of Illinois on state contracts. “This disparity is unacceptable,” Rauner said in announcing the order.

The Rauner administration is a staunch ally of minority business development. In recent years, African-American businesses have been growing under the Business Enterprise Program. Though they earned only $210.4 million from FY12-14, African-American businesses have earned $243.1 million from FY15-17 through BEP. Rauner’s executive order is intended to further accelerate growth of African-American businesses in state contracting.

“The Task Force submitted a thoughtful plan that will help us boost minority participation in state government’s business,” Gov. Rauner said. “Their recommendations comprise some of the most substantial steps ever taken to help create opportunities for African-American-owned businesses. I look forward to working with the Fair Contracting Commission to expand opportunities for African-American contractors.”

“This Task Force was a bipartisan effort for which I would like to thank Gov. Rauner, Sen. Mattie Hunter, and Rep. Will Davis,” said Wilson. “We recognized that these important measures needed to be taken to strengthen economic development and job creation in the African-American community.  The State’s engagement with African-American vendors will help lead to reduced unemployment and crime in areas that need job opportunities the most.”

In addition to the standing Commission, the Task Force recommended that addressing the underrepresentation of African-American-owned business in state contracts should be declared a compelling interest of the State.  Agencies will be held accountable for furthering that goal and contracts that are determined noncompliant with that goal will be cancelled. 

Agency management personnel will also be held individually accountable through performance evaluations that assess their role in addressing the African-American contracting disparity.  Additionally, the Task Force recommended that the Business Enterprise Program (BEP) lower the threshold for minority contracting goals to $100,000 from $250,000.

Executive Order 18-07 adopts these policies, immediately reducing the BEP threshold while mandating that within 30 days the Illinois Department of Central Management Services (CMS) issue guidance on the new requirements to state agencies. The General Services Chief Procurement Officer will have jurisdiction. CMS will set 60 and 120-day timelines for compliance and evaluation. They will also establish metrics to measure achievement.

“Thanks to the governor for giving us this unique opportunity,” said Rep. Will Davis, D-Hazel Crest. “I appreciate his desire to help and support African-American businesses. This executive order is a great first step in the right direction.”

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