2006-06-16 / Community

Update On Minority, Women Businesses At SUNY

The State University of New York has updated State Senator Malcolm Smith on its compliance with Article 15-A, which requires state agencies to establish employment and business participation for minorities and women.

The letter, signed by Vice Chancellor and Chief Financial Officer, Dr. Kimberly R. Cline, and State University Construction Fund General Manager, Philip Wood, noted that the university system supports and is compliant with the aims of Article 15-A. It adds, however, that the dollar volume of contracts with minority and women-owned businesses needs to be examined. "I certainly appreciate SUNY's willingness to be upfront about its dealings with New York's minority and women-owned businesses (MWBEs)," Senator Smith said. "Small businesses remain the backbone of our state's economy. Given New York's continued growth in diversity, it is imperative that businesses owned by women and minorities have equal access to state contracts."

According to the letter, SUNY has an annual goal of ensuring 3% business participation by both minority and women businesses, and the Construction Fund has a goal of 8% minority business participation and 2% women business participation.

It also mentions that the Construction Fund has an employee whose sole goal is to ensure the implementation of the MWBE law, and that at the time the Fund will not, as Senator Smith suggested, transfer newly approved capital projects to the State Dormitory Authority. "The University did acknowledge that the campuses have not been successful when it comes to meeting their goals. I am pleased that SUNY will take a more active role in helping its campuses," Senator Smith said, noting that the MWBE program is highlighted with all procurement training sessions for SUNY campus staff. Senator Smith added that SUNY also intends to take the following steps to further increased MWBE participation:

+Ask each campus to designate an individual responsible for its MWBE efforts.

+Assign specific staff to work with campuses, especially those with low MWBE compliance rates, to remove barriers to MWBE participation.

+Request that the Comptroller's Office raise the threshold at which competitive bids are required for MWBE contracts, thus encouraging campuses to more fully utilize those vendors.

+Work with successful campuses to replicate their efforts at less successful campuses

"Article 15-A has been on the books for nearly two decades. With each passing day, its importance grows. I am happy to see that SUNY is taking compliance seriously, and look forward to meeting with University officials at a later date to discuss further progress," Senator Smith concluded.

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