Academic journal article Public Administration Review

Did Adarand Kill Minority Set-Asides?

Academic journal article Public Administration Review

Did Adarand Kill Minority Set-Asides?

Article excerpt

Federal minority contracting opportunities serve as a major point of entry for socially and economically disadvantaged business entrepreneurs and small business concerns into the mainstream of American business enterprise. In 1994, the Minority Business Development Agency (MBDA) in the U.S. Department of Commerce reported that the value of all federal minority business enterprises prime and subcontracting procurement was 14.6 billion dollars or 8.3 percent of the total federal procurement (Parrott-Fouseca, n.d.). This amount represented an increase of more than 100 percent since 1984. Further, 68 of the top 100 Black Enterprise Magazine businesses are federal government contractors (Parrott-Fouseca, n.d.). About 32 of the top 100 largest African American firms and 17 of the top 100 largest Hispanic firms were or had been in the Section 8(a) program of the Small Business Administration (Affirmative Action Review: Report to the President, 1995).

In fiscal year 1994, 5.8 billion dollars worth of federal contracts were awarded competitively to minority businesses; representing an increase of some 152 percent from 2.3 billion dollars awarded in fiscal year 1984 (Parrott-Fouseca, n.d.). Additionally, 6.1 billion defense dollars were spent with minority firms in 1994 and from 4.4 to 4.9 billion federal dollars were spent with 5,400 firms in the Section 8 (a) program in 1994 (D. J. Miller and Associates, n.d.; Affirmative Action Review: Report to the President, 1995).

Provisions in federal law allowed set-asides to provide opportunities for socially and economically disadvantaged and small business enterprises to win federal contracts. For example. Section 502 of the Small Business Act (Public Law, 95-507) provides:

The President shall annually establish

government-wide goals for procurement

contracts awarded to small business concerns

and small business concerns owned and

controlled by socially and economically

disadvantaged individuals. The Government-wide

goal for participation by small business

contracts shall be established at not less than 20

percent of the total value of all prime contract

awards for each fiscal year. The Government-wide

goal for participation by small business

concerns owned and controlled by socially and

economically disadvantaged individuals shall

be established at not less than 5 percent of the

total value of all prime contract and subcontract

awards.

The Section 8(a) program represents some 40 percent of all federal procurement dollars received by small and socially and economically disadvantaged enterprises (Henderson, 1995). Further, the U.S. Department of Defense's Section 1207 programs allows the agency to implement a limited set-aside program for small businesses--in addition to the Section 8(a) program--to meet a statutory goal of 5 percent for socially and economically disadvantaged business enterprises (Public Law, 99-661). The intent of these and other similar federal procurement programs is to address historical patterns of discrimination and poor market access of minority business enterprises (Henderson, 1995).

However, a number of these programs were called into question as a result of the Supreme Court's decision in Adarand Constructors, Inc. v. Pena (115 S.Ct. 2097, 1995). The social and political controversy generated by the Adarand decision prompted President Clinton to issue a memorandum on June 19, 1995, to the heads of executive departments and agencies with the following directive:

in all programs you administer that use race, ethnicity,

or gender as a consideration to expand opportunity or

provide groups that have suffered discrimination, I ask

you to take steps to ensure adherence to the following

policy principles. …

Search by... Author
Show... All Results Primary Sources Peer-reviewed

Oops!

An unknown error has occurred. Please click the button below to reload the page. If the problem persists, please try again in a little while.