Tracking Minority Contracting: Has Dodd-Frank Helped Black-Owned Businesses Land More Deals with Federal Agencies?
McKinney, Jeffrey, Black Enterprise
LAST YEAR MARKED THE FIRST TIME THAT 19 federal agencies, including the Federal Deposit Insurance Corp., the Federal Reserve, and the Securities and Exchange Commission, were required by the Dodd-Frank Wall Street Reform and Consumer Protection Act to report to Congress their purchasing activity with the pool of contractors who sell the government goods and services. The law, signed by President Obama in July 2010, required federal agencies to open an Office of Minority and Women Inclusion (OMWI) to track their diversity efforts in workforce hiring and procurement with these groups.
The goal was to open up more contracting opportunities for minority and women firms. All told, the agencies allocated nearly $700 million in providing new contracts to minority and women firms in 2011 out of a total of about $3.8 billion spent with all contractors. The FDIC by far invested the most at $416.5 million, representing 29.8% of the $1.4 billion total contracts awarded. The U.S. Department of the Treasury spent $50 million with minority-owned businesses, 20% of total contracts with more than half awarded to black-owned firms and $26 million with women-owned firms, in fiscal year 2011. The Office of the Comptroller of the Currency dispensed more than a combined $66 million to both groups, or 38.4% of OCC's total spend. During 2011, the Federal Reserve Board's procurement contracts for goods and services totaled $125 million, of which more than $11 million, or about 9%, went to minority-owned businesses.
Claiming the law does indeed provide greater leverage for minority- and women-owned businesses to win federal contracts, Ralph Bazilio, CEO of Bazilio Cobb Associates, says his company expects to land new deals this year from government agencies. In fact, Bazilio is confident revenues will grow 25% from last year because of requirements in the Dodd-Frank Act that call for federal government agencies and financial services firms to provide new work to minority suppliers.
The African American-owned Bazilio Cobb Associates was awarded 17 task orders with contract ceilings valued at $29.5 million in 2011 by the FDIC, making the Washington, D.C.-based certified public accounting and consulting firm the largest black-owned recipient of projects from the FDIC.
Bazilio's firm provided the FDIC such services as managing the balance sheets of banks that the agency might close or sell, ensuring that assets of banks the FDIC might take over offered value to potential buyers, and providing the regulator with audit compliance services. Bazilio's firm also helped the FDIC protect depositors' money in the midst of a sour housing market and rising home mortgage foreclosures.
"We commend the FDIC for making such bold moves to engage minority firms," Bazilio says, adding that the work with the FDIC positions his firm to compete more broadly in the open market.
Supporters of Dodd-Frank contend it puts the appropriate processes in place to enable minority and women firms to pursue new contracts. …