JEFFERSON CITY – The Missouri Office of Administration has put forward new rules to increase efforts to promote diversity, provide greater opportunities for minority and women-owned businesses, and encourage the creation of small businesses.
“As Missourians, we share the values of inclusivity, tolerance and equal opportunity for all,” Gov. Jay Nixon said. “Our efforts to increase participation by minority and women-owned businesses and encourage new small businesses to compete for state contracts will promote greater diversity in government contracting and job creation in communities across the state.”
The proposed rules are the outcome of the steps set forth in Executive Order 15-06 to help eliminate the lingering effects of discrimination and ensure a level playing-field for all Missouri business owners. The rules are also intended to enhance the economic health and prosperity of minority and women-owned business enterprises through the use of M/WBE contract benchmarks established in state contracts for supplies, services and construction that are consistent with the findings of the most current disparity study.
The new rules include:
- Efforts to streamline the application process to become M/WBE certified with the Office of Equal Opportunity (OEO), thereby reducing the burden on businesses seeking certification.
- Upon certification, additional information about available M/WBEs will be obtainable in the state’s online M/WBE directory, which should increase the utilization of M/WBEs in the procurement process.
- Amendments to existing rules within the Office of Administration’s Purchasing and Facilities Management, Design and Construction Divisions were also put forth to carry out the provisions of Executive Order 15-06 including setting the overall participation goal for M/WBEs at 10 percent, respectively.
In October of 2015, the Governor signed Executive Order 15-06, which incorporated the recommendations by the State of Missouri’s Disparity Study Oversight Review Committee and outlined a series of steps to ensure the state’s contracting process promotes diversity and greater inclusion of M/WBEs. The Disparity Study Oversight Review Committee, appointed by Gov. Nixon in 2014, was composed of representatives of civil rights, business, labor and academic organizations.
Executive Order 15-06 also implements one of the key recommendations of the Ferguson Commission, which called for the establishment of a statewide program for M/WBEs with outcome measures that incorporate capacity building, mentoring, and education with respect to the state and local procurement system.
Earlier this year, the Office of Administration announced a new online application system for M/WBEs that will reduce the amount of time it takes to submit the necessary documentation to obtain M/WBE certification. The new system will also reduce the time OEO spends reviewing and tracking information.
Gov. Nixon is dedicated to promoting an equal opportunity workforce in Missouri. In 2010, the Governor signed Executive Order 10-24 to promote a more inclusive and diverse state workforce and identify and eradicate discriminatory employment practices. To carry out the Governor’s order, the Office of Equal Opportunity has worked aggressively to enhance the state’s efforts to provide equal employment opportunity and improve workforce diversity.
Gov. Nixon requested funding to support a disparity study in fiscal years 2011, 2012 and 2013. For fiscal year 2014, the General Assembly adopted the Governor’s recommendation and appropriated funding to support a disparity study, completed in October of 2014. Executive Order 14-07 established the Missouri Disparity Study Oversight Review Committee. The State of Missouri last commissioned a disparity study in 1994, which was completed in 1996.
The study found that “extensive evidence that discrimination on the basis of race and gender continues to operate in Missouri’s markets and that disparities exist between the availability of M/WBEs and their utilization on state contracts and associated subcontracts, as well as throughout the wider Missouri economy.”
The proposed rules will be filed with the Missouri Secretary of State and the Joint Committee on Administrative Rules. A 30 day period for public comment and/or public hearing will follow.