Beyond the Rhetoric
By Harry C. Alford & Kay DeBow
As the George W. Bush administration ended, Black procurement was coming in at 8.0 per cent. During the Obama administration levels fell consistently. As President Trump entered the White House levels were at 1.8 per cent and falling. Today, the levels have yet to turn around. For the first half of Fiscal Year 2019 (October 1 – March 31, 2019) the average is 1.3 per cent. Hopefully, we have now hit bottom and the subsequent reports will show an upward trend consistent with an improved economy.
Federal agencies are encouraged to utilize the Small Business Administration’s 8a procurement program which emphasizes utilization of designated minority firms. The SBA is a proven example of the value of this program. This agency’s Black procurement levels are at 34 per cent which leads all other agencies by far. During the second Bush administration, HUD Secretary Alphonso Jackson committed his procurement to 8a utilization. His agency approached the 30 per cent Black procurement level during his tenure. The Congressional Black Caucus formerly recognized his achievement. Secretary Jackson is no longer at HUD and those numbers have shrunk to far less results. Today, HUD is at 5.9 per cent.
The NBCC encourages all decision makers and associations of influence to encourage our federal agencies to improve their status of Black business procurement. Positive activity will result in an improved overall economy and increased employment levels. The federal government is the number one business customer. Improved performance will strengthen the weakest link of our economic chain.
Here is our strategy to increase the numbers:
- Contact each agency head and inform him/her of their procurement level status. Suggest increased utilization of the SBA 8a program on a recurring basis.
- Encourage our members to apply for 8a status.
- Make quarterly updates on Black procurement status for each agency and follow-up with correspondence to agency heads.
- Worldwide marketing and publicity.
- Garner Trump administration support.
Below is a list of some of the agencies and their procurement::
DEPT OF DEFENSE 1.00%
VETERAN AFFAIRS 2.80%
PEACE CORPS 1.90%
USA GLOBAL 7.50%
Black procurement at a total of 1.3 per cent is intolerable! We must all come together and improve this performance. Business growth, employment and economic empowerment are at stake.
Mr. Alford is the Co-Founder, President/CEO of the National Black Chamber of Commerce(R). Ms. DeBow is the Co-Founder, Executive Vice President of the Chamber. Website: www.nationalbcc.org. Emails: [email protected] [email protected].