The City Disparity Study Results Are Needed For Progress To Be Made

April 24, 2013 No Comments by Raul Espinosa

The results of the City of Jacksonville Disparity Study (http://www.coj.net/departments/office-of-economic-development/jacksonville-small—emerging-business/jseb-general-information.aspx, overdue since January, are expected to confirm – unless the results are suppressed, as many minority leaders predict it might happen – that barriers and abusive practices are continuing to be used to restrict disadvantaged business (DBE) participation in City procurements.

The Governor is about to unveil a record $74.4 Billion budget which contains $698 Million in construction and transportation projects for Northeast Florida. If the City’s established commitment to its DBE is to make sure they are allowed to perform on at least 15% of the City contracts, that would translate into $104.7 Million of public contracts! Folks, the time has come to pressure City Leaders into keeping their commitment!

Given the City’s long established practice not to track participation or diversity, local DBE – with support from their respective Chambers of Commerce – believe that such task can only take place with the commitment and support from the State, which is also facing the exact same dilemma. The State has never tracked participation and diversity results; its practices of registration, certification and training are duplicative and wasteful and the public access to contracting opportunities is, frankly, archaic! Management guru, Peter Druker, had put my views into perspective when he said, “If you cannot measure it, you cannot manage it.”

Tracking participation and results from all the 1,586 public entities issuing public contracts in the State of Florida is one of the objectives of the Umbrella Initiative, which conceived a unified procurement solution (UPS) for the State in the form of a sustainable procurement portal that would help the state and private industry solve its contracting shortcomings. Conceived by an academic Think Tank now comprised of university and law professors from four universities in the State, the Umbrella Initiative mission is “to double the number of small and disadvantaged businesses (DBE) contracting with the federal, state and local government (including the private sector as well) by the year 2020.”

I had the opportunity to brief Governor Scott Cabinet at their recent meeting in St. Augustine and found them to be very receptive to the efforts of the FPA Think Tank to help them solve the State procurement dilemma. A letter outlining the potential state-wide deployment has been sent to the Governor and CFO Jeff Atwater and briefings with senior staff members are being planned. The deployment of a sustainable a public-private initiative (PPI) will not only help the State, but the City of Jacksonville create meaningful jobs.

If you believe, as I do, that everything is possible in America, help us by supporting our efforts with your elected officials. Yes you can make a difference!

Raul Espinosa has been recognized as ‘one of the nation top authorities in ‘diversity and inclusion’ in public procurement, a $3 Trillion marketplace. He was recently elected, by his peers in Northeast Florida as ‘Diversity Champion for 2013’ and will be honored at the 9th Annual Jacksonville Business Journal Diversity Luncheon on May 2nd. Raul can be reached through http://www.umbrellainitiative.org or through Twitter @umbrellaiorg

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