Gov. Nixon signed Executive Order 15-06 into effect Wednesday in an effort to promote diversity in hiring women and minority-owned businesses for state government contracting jobs. The order comes as a result of the 2014 Disparity Oversight Review Committee’s findings, where members analyzed the state’s contracting process and discovered these smaller businesses were paling in participation to larger corporations.
Commissioner of Administration Doug Nelson said the committee credited the minimal diversity among contractors, to the businesses being unaware that their services were needed.
“They didn’t know that we’re going to market to buy picnic tables, cabins or food for our prisons. So they had a hard time participating because they didn’t know,” Nelson said.
The executive order aims to solve this confusion by creating the website https://missouribuys.mo.gov that will soon post requests for products and services needed by various state departments. Registered businesses will then have the opportunity to view these listings and apply for these contracting jobs.
“That is going to take us from a paper-based system to an electronic platform,” Nelson said. “They’re going to be able to register, get notifications, they’re going to be able to go to the webpage and look everyday if they want to.”
Despite the new online access, Disparity Oversight Committee member Anna Crosslin said she believes additional action must take place to successfully increase diversity and assure inclusion.
"First is awareness, next is training, third is developing these partnerships and being able to help all of the individuals by sitting down at the same table and figuring out how to be able to go to the next step,” Crosslin said.
Nelson said the Office of Administration is working on a collaborative program between major corporations and small businesses. He said that ideally, the prime vendors would substitute out portions of their hired contract work to other companies.
“We’re going to try to have a look at creating a mentor program that would allow us to facilitate relationships between the primes and the subs,” Nelson said.
This mentorship program is just one of the many plans under Executive Order 15-06. Nelson said the process to register as a women or minority-owned business enterprise is in the works to enter the digital platform.
“We’re very excited about it and we’ve already got a lot of opportunities in play,” Nelson said. “I think this executive order is further bringing home the point that we’ve got some good work ahead of us.
Gov. Nixon reported that the executive order’s goal is to increase women and minority-owned business participation to 10 percent of the total contracting jobs. Crosslin said that in order to make this a reality, the government must abide by the order’s intent.
“The final step in this whole process is being able to have a state and government that operates as efficiently and effectively as possible at the highest level, and that benefits as many as its diverse citizenry as possible.” Crosslin said.