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Bills May Boost Women, Minority Participation in City Contracts


Pittsburgh City Council is considering new legislation meant to boost the participation of minority- and women-owned businesses in city contracts.

Councilman Ricky Burgess said his bills would create a uniform way for all city departments and authorities to report contracts with minority and women-owned vendors. He said that would make it easier for the city’s Equal Opportunity Review Commission to determine whether or not Pittsburgh is meeting its participation goals.

Burgess said another part of the legislation would allow the commission to check in on current contracts to see if the minority and women sub-contractors are being paid properly.

"It also gives that commission powers, additional power to provide sanctions if the terms of the contracts are not met," said Burgess.

At a post-agenda Council meeting Tuesday, Burgess called together several members of the "working group" that helped him and Councilman R. Daniel Lavelle craft the legislation over the past several months. Most of the guests were representatives of the city's authorities, including the Housing Authority and the Parking Authority.

Housing Authority Procurement Director Kim Detrick said he thinks the city should have a way to compel prime contractors who aren't fully paying women and minority subcontractors. He said it would help for the EORC to have the authority to check in on the payment process as it's going on.

"If the prime sends back that they've $18,000 and the sub says, 'I've gotten $5,000,' then we have a problem and we need to get that corrected," said Detrick.

The package of four bills also includes funding for a new “disparity study,” which would update the city’s understanding of how often contracts are awarded to women and minority contractors.

The legislation will be up for a preliminary vote next Wednesday.