Nearly three-quarters of the District of Columbia's governmental agencies have failed to comply with a city law requiring them to award one quarter of the money they spend on contracts to certified minority firms, according to a city report.
The report surveyed 38 city agencies that spent $281.2 million for construction and other goods and services last year. Minority businesses were awarded contracts that totaled $76 million or about 27 percent of overall expenditures.
This record was achieved because of the special efforts of a handful of city government agencies surveyed failed to meet goals and some did not award any contracts to minorities as they are required to do.
At the same time, the report said, the law may be requiring the city to set aside more contracts for minority firms than minority companies in the District can handle.
Mayor Marion Barry yesterday released the study that was undertaken in an effort to find out how the city complies with its own minority contracting law and determine how the city eliminate abusers of the program.
As for abusers, Barry said, "I have a simple philosophy there. Those who abuse the program should be taken to court and put in jail."
The report, prepared by the Minority Business Opportunity Commission, the agency that monitors the program, has bad news for some persons in the District of Columbia who considered themselves minorities and were allowed to participrate in the program in the past.
Specifically, the report, which contains new guidelines that the MBOC will follow, eliminates Hispanics born in Europe as well as persons born in Vietnam, India, China, Korea and Africa from participation in the contracting program.
The Washington Post had quoted MBOC sources as saying that Hispanics in South and Central America would be excluded as well, but MBOC staff director Courtland Cox denied that yesterday.
The report also recommended - and the mayor agreed - that:
The law, which is to expire in March 1980, should be extended.
Two additional commissioners should be appointed to bring the commission to its full complement of seven. One of these appointees, according to Cox, should come from The Latino Community.
An executive order stating that agency directors will be held accountable for failure to comply with the law should be issued.
An advisory Committee on Minority Business Enterprise should be created that will study additional business development, examine banking and leasing issues, and make recommendations to the MBOC.
Cox said the commission is investigating 29 firms as possible abusers of the minority contracting program.
In the new guidelines, minority firms must prove that they are both "minority-owned and controlled" before they will be certified as minority.
The report was developed over the past two months after the MBOC - created to make sure minorities received their share of contracts - was criticized for mismanagement, incompetence and lack of enforcement power during former mayor Walter Washington's administration.