OMWBE 2021 Legislative Priorities
As the new year approaches, OMWBE is gearing up for the kickoff of the 2021 Legislative Session on January 11th. We look forward to a new year with renewed energy to keep progress going for equity in government contracting and procurement and to continue our service to minority- and women-owned businesses. Now more than ever, equal access and opportunities for the stable, predictable work that government contracts can mean is critical to supporting minority- and women-owned businesses as they meet the challenges of disproportionate impacts of COVID-19 on their businesses, communities, and families.
OMWBE’s 2021 Legislative Priorities reflect the continued need for focusing on equity the 2019 Washington State Disparity Study surfaced, and are directly aligned to implementing the recommendations from that Disparity Study and OMWBE’s mission, goals, and mandates under state law. These proposals build on the priorities from the 2020 session and will continue ramping up our activities to continue this work:
- Completing the Business Diversity Management System. Fully funding the remaining phases to complete implementation of the Business Diversity Management System. Establishing this electronic data collection system is the highest priority recommendation from the 2019 Disparity Study and will provide us with the data foundation upon which we can build and optimize all other efforts for equity in public contracting.
- A Small Business Advocate to assist minority- and women-owned businesses in resolving disruptions and/or grievances, identifying what action is needed, connecting businesses to appropriate resources/staff, and providing technical assistance in navigating the government contracting landscape.
- Annual subscriptions to GovDelivery, an email management service so we can better reach certified firms, stakeholders, and partners, and Dun & Bradstreet, to conduct targeted outreach for businesses that may be eligible for certification.
- An additional position for our Supplier Diversity team to manage, further develop, and implement the Washington Toolkit for Equity in Public Spending and to add more support to the Supplier Diversity program to cultivate more opportunities and reduce barriers with state agency contracts.
- An additional Certification Unit Lead position to further support the Certification Team and their efforts to provide excellent, timely, and valuable service to minority- and women-owned businesses.
- An investment in Language Access, adding to additional ongoing funding received last session, so we can set up a robust Language Access Program at OMWBE.
We are pleased that the Governor’s focus on equity in his proposals the upcoming two-year budget included funding for each of the subject areas we proposed. In doing this, the Governor has shown he recognizes the important role that equity in government and contracting and procurement plays within the body of work towards overall equity for Washington state. Of course, all of these items are proposals and there is still a long way to go through the legislative process before the final budget is agreed to and passed towards the end of session this spring. We will be working hard through the legislative process and look forward to partnering with the Legislature to achieve new heights by ensuring full funding for OMWBE’s priorities in the state budget.
Dedication to equity in how government funds are invested in contracts with the private sector is not only great for agencies in accessing diversity, innovation, and competition, but also means investments in economic recovery and resiliency for our state. When minority- and women-owned businesses succeed, we all succeed!