Magazine article Nation's Cities Weekly

Administration Issues New Rules on Race-Based Federal Contracting; Action Could Be Model for Cities

Magazine article Nation's Cities Weekly

Administration Issues New Rules on Race-Based Federal Contracting; Action Could Be Model for Cities

Article excerpt

In a move that could have implications for affirmative action programs natiowide, the Clinton Administration has issued new rules on race-based federal government contracting.

This revision of federal affirmative action policies could serve as a model for many local governments, affirmative action plans when the plans face legal challenges in the courts. If cities and municipalities are to follow the guidelines announced by the Administration, they could escape legal attacks from parties who say affirmative action plans are unconstitutional and discriminatory.

Around the country, local affirmative action programs have been under fire since a 1989 Supreme Court decision struck dawn a set aside program for women and minorities in Richmond, Virginia (Croson v. City of Richmond. The court ruled that set asides can only be used to remedy proven past discrimination. Since then, some cities, programs have been upheld by federal courts while others have not.

Under the new rules announced by the Justice Department, there would be new limits on race-based contracting. Proof of discrimination would have to be established before such contracts could be awarded and strict set aside provisions that designate specific numbers of minority contracts in a program would not be allowed.

Programs that previously gave preferences to minority-owned businesses would have to operate under a new set of limits.

The federal government would also establish a certification process to ensure companies seeking government business as minority owned are in fact owned by minorities. …

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