Out of the $22.5 billion worth of contracts the city awarded in 2020, only $1.1 billion (4.9%) went to minority or women-owned businesses, a new report by the City Comptroller shows.

Between March and April, only 11% of the $1.5 billion COVID-19 related goods and services contracts went to M/WBEs and three agencies — The Mayor’s Office, Department of Parks and Recreation and Health + Hospitals — all spent nothing on M/WBE contracts in COVID-19 related procurement. Throughout the 2020 financial year, 82% of M/WBEs did not receive any spending from the city. 

City Comptroller Scott Stringer released the annual Making the Grade: New York City Agency Report Card on M/WBEs report Tuesday, and gave the city a C grade for its diversity spending, after four consecutive years of D+. The grade highlights a frustrating and problematic pattern of underinvestment in the city’s many diversely owned businesses.

Comptroller Stringer said while thousands of businesses struggled to stay afloat amid the economic fallout of COVID-19, it was “painfully clear” the pandemic was disproportionately hurting M/WBEs. 

“A long history of systemic inequality and exclusion is being compounded by COVID-19 and if we want an equitable recovery, we can’t stand idly by,” he said.

“It is a failure of government that, in the face of our M/WBE community’s severe economic distress, the city showed little to no improvement toward reaching M/WBE spending goals this year.”

He said as the city worked towards rebuilding the economy it had to ensure minority and women businesses owners had the tools, resources, access and opportunities to participate and share in that recovery.  

“Our economy is strongest when it is inclusive and representative of our city’s diversity.” 

Broken down by category, the report showed the city earned an “F” with African Americans, a “D” with women, a “B” with Hispanic Americans, and an “A” with Asian Americans. The city only spent about $17.5 million, or one percent, with Black American-owned firms; and about $15.7 million, or one percent, with Hispanic American-owned firms. 

Three mayoral agencies earned “A” grades: the Commission on Human Rights, Department for the Aging, and the Department of Youth and Community Development.

The Making the Grade report has been published annually since 2014, assessing 32 city agencies and the city overall on progress in spending with minority and women-owned businesses.

The report has continued to highlight the low levels of city investment in its M/WBEs, despite the rigorous process those businesses go through to become certified in the city’s program.

With the release of this year’s report, Stringer is calling for mandatory unconscious bias training, transparent timelines for RFP awards and a targeted plan to address areas of low M/WBE utilization.

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  1. I want to know what percentage of contracts went specifically to Black businesses. White women often serve as figure heads for businesses actually controlled by white men as a work around to qualify for MWBE contracts.

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