Minnesota is taking tangible steps to ensure equity in state contracting; helping businesses owned by women, veterans, minorities, and individuals with disabilities access opportunities to do business with the state, so says the state’s top lawmaker.
Gov. Mark Dayton announced the creation of a new Office of Equity in Procurement at the Department of Administration. According to Dayton, the new office will help ensure greater equity in state contracting and construction and will promote opportunities to do business with the state, and provide assistance to small businesses owned by women, minorities, people with substantial physical disabilities, and veterans as they seek state contracts.
“A government that serves all the people of Minnesota should reflect all of Minnesota,” said Dayton. “We must ensure that all businesses have equal opportunities to secure contracts with the state. This new office will be essential in helping achieve that important goal.”
The Office of Equity in Procurement will help advance the principles of equity outlined by Dayton in an executive order he issued earlier this year. The order directed state agencies to commit to equal employment opportunities, equal contracting opportunities and full participation in civic life. It also established a new Diversity and Inclusion Council, which completed its first report last week and is responsible, in part, for finding ways to improve equity in state contracting.
“The state has made a commitment that all businesses should have the ability to compete for state contracts,” said Administration Commissioner Matt Massman, who chairs the Contracting Practices Committee of the governor’s Diversity and Inclusion Council. “The Office of Equity in Procurement will back up our commitment to equity through small business assistance that will equip a broader range of vendors to effectively compete.”
In addition to the Administration Department’s new Office of Equity in Procurement, new investments made this session will increase outreach to targeted group businesses, make technology improvements to streamline the certification process for eligible businesses, and provide staff to create a state veterans certification program. New laws enacted this session will also align state business certification requirements with federal requirements and create a web-based portal for a one-stop state and federal site to apply for certification.
“In Minnesota, our people are our greatest asset,” said Lieutenant Governor Tina Smith. “For our state to continue to be competitive in a global economy, we must work to expand employment opportunities for all Minnesotans.”
More than 1,000 small businesses are currently certified as veteran-owned, economically disadvantaged, or targeted group businesses in Minnesota based on the business’ ownership by woman, minority, person with a substantial physical disability, or by its location in an economically disadvantaged area.
The Department of Administration oversees state procurement, including more than $2 billion in state purchases each year. State law has provided for a targeted group preference program since 1990.