The Montgomery County Council Government Operations (GO) Committee tabled a bill that would have enforced the County’s policy of reaching out to minority-owned businesses to bid on contracts.
Bill 20-16, which is co-sponsored by all members of the council, would have eliminated loopholes in County law that allowed non-Minority, Female, Disabled (MFD) owned business preference for prime contracts if their proposal exceeded the goal of the contract.
The GO committee decided to table the bill because there was not enough evidence businesses or government officials abused the County’s system for awarding contracts.
“We really don’t even know if this has been a problem, so that’s my other concern that we’re rushing to change something right after we did some incredible work to modify our practices,” said Council member Nancy Navarro (D-4), who is chair of the GO committee. “…Is this really necessary at this point in time without us having enough data in terms of whether this is even a problem?”
A MFD business in Montgomery County is defined as a business that is 51 percent owned by people who are a racial minority, a woman or disabled.
The Montgomery County Office of Procurement is responsible for making sure the County is awarding contracts fairly.
Committee members table the bill in order to give council staff more time to research to see if the bill was necessary.
Council legislative attorney said MFDs did not have much of a problem competing for subcontracts but lacked advantages for prime contracts.
“So you got a situation where the non-MFD primes, maybe because of their greater sub contracting, can get more points than the MFD prime,” Drummer said. “What this bill was enacted to do was essentially to reverse that, require that not happen.”
The way the County awards contracts is based on points.
MFD companies that bid for County contracts are awarded points if they meet the goals of the contract, but according to Drummer, non-MFDs were able to get the same amount of points if their proposal exceeded the goals of the proposed contract.
Last year, the council passed bill 48-14, which was meant to increase the number of participation of minority owned business in bidding process for County contracts by awarding more points to minority owned business.
Bill 20-16 would have tweaked the formula in order to give more points to an MFD that bids for a government contract.
The council has 18 months to act on bill 20-16 before it expires.