Solutions to Public Contracting Disparities Unveiled

June 15, 2011 No Comments by Raul Espinosa

FORT LAUDERDALE, FL. – JUNE 16TH, 2011 – During an Economic Development Presentation at the Let’s Do Business Florida event , attended by over 500 minority leaders from across the State including State and Federal officials, Raul Espinosa, Founder of The Fairness in Procurement Alliance (FPA) and Managing Partner of The Umbrella Initiative acknowledged the Obama Administration for implementing a FPA recommendation made on an OP-ED , published by The Project on Government Oversight (POGO) on May 6th, 2010. The OP-ED detailed how OMB could assure accuracy in the reporting of the procurement data supplied by Federal Agencies for the SBA Report Card.

The presentation also detailed plans for a new Florida Procurement Portal which would bring transparency in the tracking of public contracts and create a unified procurement solution for the state’s 1,586 public entities that issue public contracts. The State of Delaware has just unveiled a similar solution, but with less than 2/3 of the proposed features Florida would benefit by. Lieutenant Governor, Jennifer Carroll, has said, “The Umbrella Initiative offers actual solutions with measurable results to a State dilemma the Governor intends to solve.”

The Umbrella Initiative is a public-private initiative conceived by the FPA Think Tank with a mission “to double the number of small and minority businesses contracting with the federal, state and local government by 2020.” Plans were also detailed, during the presentation, for the creation of a whole new industry in the state refurbishing containers into Distance Learning Classrooms and Global Disaster Units for deployment during international disasters. The industry will create 300 jobs every sixty days.

Transparency in Contracting

The Federal Agencies procurement data made public, thanks to Congressional Transparency, has shown to be off 10-15% each year since the SBA announced its Report Card to account for the share Federal Agencies spent in contracting with small and disadvantaged businesses.

“Although the statutory share in contracts to small businesses is 23% and Federal Agencies have admitted they have failed by averaging 21.5 – 21.8% over the past three years, the truth is more like 18.1 – 19.6% and those are huge differences when the totals have averaged $83.2B – $96.8B,” said Dr. Henry Thomas, co-founder of the Umbrella Initiative and former director of the Florida Center for Public and International Policy at UNF.

REPORT CARD DATA FY 2007 FY 2008 FY 2009
Federal Agencies Share Claimed $83.2B $93.3B $96.8B
Official Percentage of Total 21.5% $21.3% 21.8%
Umbrella Initiative Unofficial Totals 18.3 -19.4% 18.1-19.2% 18.5-19.6%

Daniel Gordon, the Administrator of the Office of Federal Procurement Policy (OFPP) at OMB on a Memo to Agency Procurement Officials, has admitted that, “Federal procurement data that is gathered by, reported, and entered by procurement agencies into information systems…is often incomplete, inaccurate, and untimely.”

Increasing Contracting Opportunities

“The procurement features The Umbrella Initiative has conceived represent a virtual mechanism for reaching out to multiple communities, including underserved markets, with contracting opportunities, trainings and access to credit,” said Dr. Carlton Lamar Robinson, Director of Research for the Umbrella Initiative and former President of the First Coast Black Chamber of Commerce in Jacksonville, FL. He added, “Access to information and education leads to teaming opportunities.”

Ryan Reid, Director of Technology Services for the Umbrella Initiative and developer of the Bidspeed Federal Portal said, “the features conceived by The Umbrella Initiative will bring transparency, education and a host of essential procurement services all under one umbrella.”

A distance learning center, an accurate database for tracking contracting results and one for reporting abusive procurement practices are but a few of new features that will become available. Small and disadvantaged businesses will no longer be kept in the dark and offered misinformation.”

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