On Nov. 1, Mayor Bruce Harrell was joined by the Department of Finance and Administrative Services (FAS), Women-and Minority Owned business (WMBEs) leaders, and community partners to sign a new Executive Order that expands contracting equity and access for businesses, particularly WMBEs, seeking contracting and procurement opportunities with the City of Seattle.
“We specifically talk about Black-owned businesses because the data suggests that is an area we need to target, and we believe by targeting that demographic, all boats rise,” Harrell said.
The City’s WMBE program was created to help correct the historical and disproportionate underutilization of WMBE firms. As a result, spending with WMBE firms continues to consistently grow year over year. Of the City’s more than $900 million annual spend on goods and services, nearly $228 million was spent with WMBEs in 2022 for consulting services and contracting for public works projects.
FAS will lead much of the work around the executive order.
The new Executive Order mandates that City departments regularly engage with the community to facilitate connections between WMBEs, particularly Black-owned businesses, and project managers and procurement professionals in City departments. Additionally, the Executive Order instructs FAS, which is responsible for overseeing the City’s WMBE program and purchasing and contracting services, to develop an action plan for implementing recommendations resulting from an ongoing citywide disparity impact study.
The Executive Order also reestablishes the mayor’s WMBE Advisory Committee, renewing the City’s commitment to partnering with WMBE and other community leaders with on-the-ground experience to identify and develop solutions to barriers businesses face in securing public works contracts.
Additionally, the Executive Order advances work FAS and the city’s Innovation and Performance team is conducting to transform the City’s procurement process so that it is results driven, more accessible, and equitable. Seattle is one of two cities in the United States to be awarded a $1 million, two-year grant by the Bloomberg Center for Public Innovation and a fellow from the Harvard Government Performance Lab is working with the city to support this work.