« Rethinking Slavery and Black Politics | Main | Focus & Expectations »

February 12, 2004


Feed You can follow this conversation by subscribing to the comment feed for this post.


My Daughter graduated from UofM engineering school,Jack Nasser at the time was ceo of Fordmoco.Jack commencement address started with a look at the class and said this was unacceptable,the school should mirror the state population(only two females and three black males)A company should mirror its customers .The contracts should mirror the population;sending out applications is not enough.


I'd like to know the annual revenues and contracting history of the African American businesses notified as well as the reasons for non-participation. It might moderate the charge, but also deflate the notion that the 297 black notifications were on the up and up.

For all we know some of them were barbershops.


the central key is understanding both the history of the businesses, and the nuts and bolts of contracting bids. having had a good friend end up on the bad end of a similar process, while we know there are shaky businesses who don't deserve the time of day, we also know that "lowest bid" doesn't really mean jack. particularly when we're talking about government contracting.

Ward Bell

I've recently done some work in this area (developed a compliance monitoring system for a small and underutilized business program; city-government sponsored) and the numbers can be quite deceiving: the raw numbers do not really reflect availability or capacity to do the job.

What seems to be the only real way to work these "affirmative action programs" (I use that term very, very loosely) is to build a comprehensive database of minority suppliers -- including measures of experience and capacity to do the job. Then, require that prime contractors seek out and accept bids from all sub-contractors that perform work in the associated SIC Code areas (construction has some 20 or so SIC Codes that fit various activities). The Primes must report on the results of each of their contacts -- providing reasons for non-selection. My database program partially automated that process.

Finally, and the most important part: the sponsoring agency must invest in some monitoring and auditing because the process relies on self-reporting. If discrimination is found, that prime is severely punished financially.

With the proper follow-up and teeth, Primes quickly begin to see in makes good sense to do business with the lowest, responsible bidder.

Waxing on: one of the problems with setting numerical goals based on population is that even when they can be adjusted to account for experience and capacity to do the work, they become "ceilings" instead of "floors." Pushing the concept of "economic sense" oens the possibility of crashing through such artificial barriers.

In the end, the Governmental Agency involved will have to pay more than lip service to expanding opportunites and for making up for past discrimination.


thanks a lot ward. your contribution is very helpful to this discussion. as black businesses ARE businesses conducted by regular folk who just so happen to be black...some of them are going to be random and trifling. on the other hand we know that non-black contract granting agencies (both public AND private) often explicitly and implicitly exclude. and it's possible that both are going on at the same time. it's tricky measuring this dynamic.

Ward Bell

Explicit exclusion is against the law: when and if you catch it, you gotta come down hard. You use all the tools available -- including the press and other media. You gotta have your stuff together, however.

Implicit is more difficult: you still gotta work it hard and push the envelopes until "they" do the right thing. (And the right thing is often about the "green;" it is funny how much discrimination goes away when the $$$$ line up right.)

There are 100s of ways to exclude; we need to chip away at them and eliminate the easy ones.

One of the ways is to collaborate: unfortunately, some folks don't understand the whys and hows of collaboration.

Verify your Comment

Previewing your Comment

This is only a preview. Your comment has not yet been posted.

Your comment could not be posted. Error type:
Your comment has been posted. Post another comment

The letters and numbers you entered did not match the image. Please try again.

As a final step before posting your comment, enter the letters and numbers you see in the image below. This prevents automated programs from posting comments.

Having trouble reading this image? View an alternate.


Post a comment

Your Information

(Name and email address are required. Email address will not be displayed with the comment.)

Blog powered by Typepad