Mayor Sandy Stimpson has plans to create a new executive-level position within his administration charged with overseeing the city’s procurement procedures.
Stimpson’s Chief of Staff Colby Cooper proposed the move Thursday, during a meeting of the City Council’s Administration Services Committee called to discuss the merits of a proposed ordinance requiring firms that contract with the city to provide information on the diversity of their workforces.
This new position, which would require the approval of a budget amendment by council, would be charged with streamlining the dozen or so procurement processes that exist throughout the city and would develop a supplier diversity program.
“Over the last year, the mayor has identified a clear need to address the issue of supplier diversity head on,” Cooper said.
In addition, the person appointed to this position would also focus on modernizing the city’s procurement process through internal and external technological means as well as develop a “robust stakeholder outreach program” that would include input from the City Council, the Chamber of Commerce, private businesses and non-profit organizations, Cooper said.
“With City Council support of this proposal, the mayor will move expeditiously to find the most talented person we can to be Mobile’s first chief procurement officer,” Cooper said.
A $30,000 study that collected data on the city’s procurement activities over a three year period played a role in this proposal, Cooper said. The study, presented to the council by Speeches, Etc. LLC, found that disparity existed in the number of contracts awarded by the city to minority-owned businesses.
That same study prompted Councilman Fred Richardson to sponsor the ordinance that would require companies to submit to questions about the ethnicity and gender of employees, during the bid process.
Committee Chairman Levon Manzie said he was in support of Richardson’s ordinance, but offered his own law that would put in place a citizen committee to review the issue of disparity among city contracts.
This proposed committee, which the full council could vote on Tuesday, would study how other cities, like New Orleans, Atlanta and Chicago, have addressed minority business opportunities and how those cities have leveled the playing field in terms of procurement, Manzie said.
“The committee will look at best practices and make a recommendation on how we can implement those,” he said.
Manzie said the committee would be given strict guidelines and a timetable of about three to six months to come back to the council with its recommendations.
During the meeting, Richardson recommended tabling his ordinance, in favor of the committee approach, and waiting on its recommendation.
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