Online System Shows NYC Still Shuns Minority And Women-Owned Businesses

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NYC Comptroller Stringer -- transparency shows New York's abysmal MWBE spending record

Comptroller Scott M. Stringer has announced a new transparency initiative that will provide the public with unparalleled access to detailed information on City spending and contracts with M/WBEs (minority and women-owned business enterprises) and subcontractors --businesses that perform work on City contracts held by other firms-- for the first time ever in Checkbook NYC.

“Open data is a powerful tool for economic empowerment and accountability,” Stringer said. “The public can now see in real time where money is flowing at all levels of contracting in one place. These new features will provide transparency about M/WBE spending as never before and also give crucial insight into how contracts are distributed once they are awarded.”

Checkbook NYC, an online transparency tool that places the City’s day-to-day spending in the public domain, now has “featured dashboards” – or dedicated screens – which will help M/WBEs and other subcontractors pinpoint which vendors are awarded City contracts and monitor when agencies pay out money on specific projects. Checkbook NYC users can use these dashboards to follow the life of a contract from master agreements through modifications and payments, seeing how contracts change over time.

M/WBE data available on Checkbook NYC today reveals that:

The City has spent a total of $432 million – or about 4.4 percent of available dollars – with M/WBEs to date in FY 2015, which began on July 1, 2014.

The Department of Youth and Community Development has among the lowest spending rates with M/WBEs in FY15, with only 0.9% of available agency spending going to M/WBEs, while the Landmarks Preservation Commission has among the highest, with 23.7% of available agency spending going to M/WBEs. The School Construction Authority has the highest total spending in FY15, with over $162 million – or 11.3% of available agency spending – going to M/WBEs.

Women-owned firms have received payments of $145.1 million to date in FY15 (1.54% of available City spending), Hispanic American-owned firms have received payments of $46.2 million (0.5% of available City spending) and Black American-owned firms have received payments totaling only $25.5 million (0.3%) to date in FY15.

“Increasing how much our City spends on M/WBEs is a crucial tool in expanding economic opportunity and increasing competition across all five boroughs. This new level of transparency will tell us whether agencies are reaching our City’s spending goals with these vendors,” Stringer said.

Additionally, the public will now be able to see how vendors who have won contracts disburse those awards to subcontractors in real time. This level of detail is of particular importance considering recent instances of fraud uncovered by local, state, and federal law enforcement agencies in the subcontracting process. This information is made available in collaboration with the Mayor’s Office of Contract Services and the Financial Information Services Agency, an entity that is jointly run by the Comptroller and the Mayor. Additional subcontractor data will become available in the coming months.

Since taking office, Comptroller Stringer has launched several initiatives to increase transparency and improve access to City contracting by M/WBEs. Those include his “Making the Grade” report which assessed each City agency’s actual spending with M/WBEs compared to citywide procurement goals established by Local Law 1 of 2013, an online Vendor Roadmap, and the announcement of a Red Tape Commission of small businesses owners and regulatory experts to identify roadblocks that frustrate business owners, discourage innovation and block efficiency.


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