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Mayoral Agencies Get Low Grades on Hiring Women and Minorities

New York Comptroller Scott Stringer presents a report about the success of mayoral agencies in hiring women and minority owned businesses on Wednesday. (Natalie Schachar/GlobalCityNYC

New York Comptroller Scott Stringer presents a report about the success of mayoral agencies in hiring women and minority owned businesses on Wednesday. (Photo by Natalie Schachar/GlobalCityNYC)

Two-thirds of New York City mayoral agencies were graded “D” or “F” for their lack of success in hiring minorities and women-owned businesses, in a report card system unveiled on Wednesday by Comptroller Scott Stringer. Saying that a grading system was a long-overdue reform needed to address inequality within city government, Stringer also said that agencies would be held accountable for their hiring practices. The overall average grade for city agencies was a D. Only two agencies, the Department of Cultural Affairs and the Landmarks Preservation Commission, received a B, and not a single agency received an A. ¨In a city that prides itself as a place where opportunities comes to those who work hard, regardless of color or creed, it´s a disgraceful number and we are going to change it,¨ Stringer said. The comptroller called the grading system a watershed moment in New York City government, saying that a higher number of contracts for minority and women-owned businesses would be a key weapon in the battle against income inequality. Currently, 3.9 percent of the city´s $17.8 billion budget for goods and services goes to businesses owned by women or minorities, a  drop from a high of 5 percent in 2012, but a slight uptick from 2013 when the percentage was 3.7. There are over 300,000 women-owned firms and 400,000 minority-owned firms in the city. Despite the city´s initiative to certify businesses owned by women and minorities, however, such firms have largely failed to obtain government contracts. Local Law 1 of 2013, which looked at contracts over $1 million, was used as a framework for the report card. Grades were based on total spending by agencies as well as the amount spent on goods and services procured from minority and women-owned businesses. They were then weighted according to agency budgets. Using this system, the Comptroller´s office itself received a C for spending little with any minority group for standard services or goods, and for barely spending anything with businesses owned by black Americans in any industry. Stringer promised that, over the next year,  his office would try to serve as a model for other agencies in relation to the procurement process. He also said that he would follow up with grades for every agency next year, including his own. ¨You´re going to hear more from us about how we´re doing because we want to lead,¨ Stringer said. ¨We got a C, we got to get to an A. We have to put our money where our mouth is on this issue.¨ The letter grades, published in a report titled ¨Making the Grade,¨ are intended to give agency leaders a way to examine their performance and determine how they can increase spending with certain firms. ¨We´re moving too slowly,¨ Stringer said. ¨By any measure, nobody can be satisfied with what we see here today.¨ In the report, Stringer offered recommendations for improving performance, including better agency accountability for expanding contracts and data improvement so that spending can be tracked more effectively. With greater transparency, Stringer said, businesses could see whether agencies were looking for goods and services and could then offer their particular expertise. ¨We´re not just posting a letter grade. We´re actually posting some serious data that can be analyzed,¨ Stringer said. ¨A lot of work went into drilling down as much data as we could.¨ The Comptroller also said that city agencies would meet later this week to discuss how they can move forward and disseminate government contracts more equitably.


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