Councilwoman Maria D. Quiñones Sánchez (7th District) recently penned a commentary in the Philadelphia Inquirer urging changes to the city’s procurement process to ensure that the forthcoming $700 billion Rebuild initiative provides economic benefits all Philadelphians.
Ready the commentary in its entirety on philly.com. Excerpts are posted below:
Instead of using our investments to build communities, we practice business as usual and maintain the status quo. The vast majority of the work goes to the few big, savvy contractors who can navigate the process, and small businesses are largely shut out.
We need to make major changes to bring fairness and clarity to this process. Here’s how:
Prioritize project management: The groundbreaking is only the beginning – after the ceremonial shovels are put away, neighbors are too often left with a project that drags on, over budget, and months or years past deadline. This is why we have a years-long capital projects backlog now. To change this, we should institute project management requirements to hold contractors accountable to the city and to the community. This is where our private and nonprofit sector partners can bring their expertise to ensure compliance and accountability in these projects.
Welcome more small businesses as city contractors: Small businesses do exceptional work in every city neighborhood every single day. If we create supports to bring them into this process, they can compete with the big guys, creating jobs and wealth in their communities. We can be more welcoming to small contractors by debundling oversized contracts into manageable smaller ones, and developing insurance, bonding, and financing umbrellas to help them meet the cash-flow and back-office demands of participating in the city procurement process.
Develop diversity in the building trades: City Council’s 2015 Annual Disparity Study showed us that the growth in certified minority- and women-owned contractors has not been matched by their participation on city worksites. The diverse workforce is growing, but it isn’t being hired. Meanwhile, we continue to exempt contractors from our own diverse workforce requirements, accepting their excuses that there aren’t people of color and women who are able to do these jobs.
Councilwoman Maria Quiñones-Sánchez is a veteran activist with over 30 years of service to the City of Philadelphia, currently serving a third four-year term on Philadelphia City Council. More info at phlcouncil.com/MariaQSanchez