Mayor Marion Barry, armed with a report that says the District has failed to give blackowned businesses their share of city contracts, plans to personally oversee the city agency that was created to help minority businesses.
One of the new mayor's first steps, said Barry spokeswoman Florence Tate, will be to place the troubled Minority Business Opportunity Commission "under his wing and have the director of the organization report directly to him."
Currently, the commission is without funding and the director is far removed from the top echelons of city government.
Tate said the mayor is considering a number of recommendations by his minority business task force, which was appointed by Barry's transition team.
The report states: "There has been flagrant abuse of the city's commitment to minority business, thereby hindering minority business development rather than enhancing it."
The task force report, made available to The Washington Post, spells out a number of deficiencies in the city effort to aid minority businessmen. The key conclusion of the task force is that minority businessmen have failed to receive 25 percent of the District government's contract dollars as required by law.
Tate said the new mayor plans, by the end of January, to say which recommendations he will implement to aid minority businessmen.
"The mayor wants minority businesses to get an equitable share of the city's business... this is something the mayor is very mindful of and he intends to enforce the law," said Tate.
According to the minority business task force, made up of business representatives, there are a number of problems associated with the city's failure to give minorities their share of District contract dollars. These include:
The city's lack of minority business development program.
The absence of central responsibility for minority business development in the city.
The fact that the District has not utilized the federal Small Business Administration's special set-aside program for minorities, and that personnel in key positions in the city have not been sensitive or responsive to minority business development.
That financial resources are available and earmarked for minority businesses but are not dispensed because there is no mechanism for timely disbursement.
According to the report, minority businesses currently in the city receive less than 5 percent of the city's dollar purchases of goods, supplies and services, although District law requires that 25 percent of those purchases be set aside for minority businesses.
The report recommends that the mayor establish a $44,000-a-year special assistant position -- a person who can advise the mayor on minority contracting needs and can speak for the mayor on minority business issues and policies. The report also suggests a $22,000 office manager position.
The mayor should also develop an agency to replace the Minority Business Opportunity Commission, according to the report, which also notes that the proposed agency should have funding and the authority to ensure that city agencies award a larger percentage of contracts to minorities.
The present Minority Business Opportunity Commission, according to the report, should be used by the mayor until the new agency is created. The report states that although the MBOC is not funded, the law requires it to have staff. MBOC staffers are currently borrowed from other agencies.
The report cites several examples of inequities:
"There is a consistent purchase of automobiles for at least one District department from a suburban Virginia car dealer when the District has at least one minority-owned car dealership."
And, "A minority construction contractor who bills the city $93,000 per month must seek bank financing, which is not easy to come by, to meet his payroll because of the city's continuous delays in providing timely payments -- a current executive order no longer permits contractors to walk their invoices through the payment cycle."
The report also states that the largest minority-owned professional service firm in the District has not obtained a direct contract with the District in 10 years. And, that the only minority-owned vending service in the District had to be featured on local television before the owner could get an interview with the appropriate District purchasing units. The report said the man had been trying to get an interview for more than six months.