Nearly half of the new Washington Convention Center's 1982 budget for equipment and services -- more than $1.5 million -- was awarded to minority-owned businesses, center officials said last week.
D.C. law requires that 25 percent of city government spending for construction, goods and services be set aside for minority-owned companies.
In fiscal year 1981, the last year for which complete figures are available, about 34 percent of the city's expenditures in affected areas was awarded to minority-owned firms, according to William Jameson, head of the city's Minority Business Opportunity Commission.
Mayor Marion Barry has made the award of city contracts to minority-owned firms a priority. He recently signed a measure, now pending in Congress, requiring that 35 percent of the city's annual expenditures for construction, goods and services be reserved for minority groups.
Michael C. Rogers, deputy convention center manager, who disclosed the purchasing figures at the center's board of directors' meeting, said the center had $3.2 million in purchasing expenditures that could have gone to minority firms. Of that amount, $1.59 million or 49 percent went to minority-owned businesses, he said. Rogers said most of the money was used to buy items, including 12,000 chairs, tables and other furnishings for the center.
The convention center, run by a five-member board appointed by the mayor, awards its contracts for goods and services separately from other city agencies.
Rogers submitted to the board proposed permanent purchasing regulations that would replace interim rules now in effect. He said the regulations would require board approval of all purchases over $25,000 and include a "very strong ethics section" for center employes involved in purchasing.
Rogers said that for most contracts under $25,000 the staff will continue to seek competitive bids. For small purchases or in emergencies, he said, price quotations will be obtained from merchants before a decision is made.
The final construction inspection of the $98.7 million center will begin Dec. 1. The opening, including a ribbon-cutting ceremony featuring the mayor and a reception for potential center customers, will be held Dec. 10, assistant general manager Alan Grip told the directors. The convention center staff moved last week from temporary rented offices to the center.