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City to Explore Ways to Boost Minority Contractors


Bob Kronovetrealty
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By Jorge Casuso

January 18, 2024 -- The City Council on Tuesday is expected to hire a consultant to begin exploring ways to boost the number of minority contractors hired by the City.

The recommended bidder -- BBC Research & Consulting -- would be awarded a 2-year $175,000 to conduct a "procurement study," according to a staff report to the Council.

The study would identify the "barriers to equity and inclusion" that could be restricting the hiring of minority contractors and propose changes to City policies, staff wrote

The study includes a review of the City's vendor requirements, "online competitive bidding process" and "advertising of bidding opportunities."

It also would analyze the City's "vendor selection and evaluation criteria, vendor communication and resources, and contract execution," staff said.

The study's goal is "to determine what barriers or discrimination exist within the local public and private sectors and whether the City acts as a passive participant in that discrimination."

In addition, it will explore whether such barriers and discrimination in the marketplace "may have affected the ability of local small and under-represented businesses to form, grow, and successfully compete for project work, including for City work."

To collect the data, BBC would "survey hundreds, if not thousands, of businesses" located in Santa Monica and LA County "that perform relevant types of work."

An "availability analysis" would help the City identify which "local small and underrepresented businesses are available," as well as "future networking and outreach efforts," staff said.

BBC already has gathered information from thousands of businesses in the region for a similar study it conducted for the LA County Metropolitan Transportation Authority, staff said.

The Santa Monica study would evaluate successful initiatives by other agencies, analyze relevant product markets and develop recommendations.

Tuesday's agenda item stems from efforts launched by the City Council following demonstrations and riots in May 2020 -- both nationwide and in Santa Monica -- protesting the killing of George Floyd by a Minneapolis police officer.

Within weeks, the Council had created an Equity Racial Committee with representatives from every City department.

The committee's goal was to "embed equity into daily operations through modified policies, inclusive community engagement and opening new pathways to our workforce," according to staff.

In March 2021, Councilmember Oscar de la Torre pushed to include "equity and inclusiveness" as a top City priority to guide everything from City hiring to educational opportunities ("Council Narrows Focus on Top Priorities," March 15, 2021).

In August 2022, Santa Monica hired an Equity and Inclusion Manager to oversee efforts to diversify the City's "institutional culture" ("City Hires Equity and Inclusion Manager," August 31, 2022).

The Equity and Inclusion Manager and an Equity and Inclusion Officer were part of a panel of representatives from Finance and City Manager’s office that reviewed and proposals and recommended hiring BBC, staff said.

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