NEW ORLEANS — Mayor LaToya Cantrell today joined other City officials and community leaders to announce a restructuring of the procurement process to improve supplier diversity when it comes to awarding and tracking City contracts to local businesses.
The restructuring includes moving the Office of Supplier Diversity under the Finance Department, led by Chief Financial Officer Norman White. This allows Supplier Diversity and Procurement, also under Finance, to have earlier involvement in the procurement process. This will allow all involved to assess the performance of both Primes and Disadvantaged Business Enterprises (DBEs) in prior contracting, which in turn will lead to a more effective process with improved accountability.
“Ensuring that both the Office of Supplier Diversity and the Office of Procurement are under Finance will lead to a more effective and efficient process that will provide more opportunities for our women- and Black-owned businesses who previously have felt left out of the contracting process. We are making City Hall a more equitable place to do business and resolving one of the key issues we learned from our transition report when I came into office,” said Mayor Cantrell.
The City will continue to work with Build NOLA, the training program that allows small businesses to learn about all aspects of creating and sustaining a business. The City also plans to partner with the local commerce chambers to increase participation in new training programs. The City also has found a way to link its BRASS purchasing system with the Business-to-Government (B2G) Disadvantaged Business Enterprise (DBE) tracking program so that compliance officers will know immediately who has been paid and who has not been paid. Further, the City is working with community groups to add enhanced measures for praising Primes and DBEs who work in earnest with the City’s values, and to admonish those who do not.
“We are enhancing research tools so that we can really know where waivers and single source contracts may signal that we need to spur on the creation of new businesses,” said Camille Hazeur, Director of the Office of Supplier Diversity. “We will continue to work to support BuildNOLA and partnering with the Chambers, the Urban League, and with our own City economic and community programs designed to prepare for a larger, skilled workforce.”
“We are proud to work with the Administration to create policies and processes that create equitable contracting in our city. The COVID-19 pandemic has shown us that minority- and women-owned businesses are the most vulnerable to the economic downturn affecting our country, and we must do all we can to preserve and build up the local businesses that make our city unique” said Cyndi Nguyen, City Councilmember, District E.
Mayor Cantrell’s announcement came on the holiday celebrating the life and work of the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., and one day before the Infrastructure Industry Day Teleconference, in which City leaders will break down the ways businesses can get involved in the millions of dollars of infrastructure improvements happening in every council district of New Orleans. For more information visit roadwork.nola.gov.
“The City’s infrastructure programs provide an unprecedented opportunity for small businesses to participate and grow. We are rebuilding our infrastructure, making our city safer and lovelier, and we are making a significant impact on our economy at the same time. We look forward to even more smaller businesses participating in the City’s rebuilding programs in the coming months and years,” said Ramsey Green, CAO for Infrastructure.
Mayor Cantrell was also joined by Norman White, Chief Financial Officer; Keith LaGrange, Director, Department of Public Works; Vincent A. Smith, Director, Capital Projects Administration; Julien Meyer, Chief Procurement Officer; Laverne Saulny, Executive Director, New Orleans Regional Black Chamber of Commerce; and Julius Feltus, Senior Advisor to the Mayor and member of the Martin Luther King Jr. Holiday Planning Commission.
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