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Increasing Opportunities and Access for Disadvantaged Businesses

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Office of the Press Secretary

For Immediate Release October 6, 2000

President Clinton and Vice President Gore: Increasing Opportunities and Access for Disadvantaged Businesses

Today, President Clinton signed an Executive Order to increase access to federal contracts for disadvantaged businesses, reaffirming the Administration's commitment to ensuring that all Americans share in our nation's prosperity. The Executive Order directs agencies to take affirmative steps to increase contracting between the federal government and Small Disadvantaged Businesses, 8(a) Businesses, and Minority Business Enterprises. These businesses play a vital role in our nation's economy, but have faced historic underutilization in Federal procurement.

TAKING AFFIRMATIVE STEPS TO CREATE OPPORTUNITIES FOR ALL BUSINESS OWNERS. The Executive Order directs Federal departments and agencies with procurement authority to take aggressive and specific actions to ensure inclusion of disadvantaged businesses in federal contracting, including:

  1. Aggressively using the 8(a) program and statutory price credit programs to bring more disadvantaged businesses into the federal procurement process.
  2. Enforcing commitments by prime contractors to use small and disadvantaged businesses as subcontractors.
  3. Using all available media to inform disadvantaged businesses of federal contracting opportunities.
  4. Encouraging mentor-protege programs to assist disadvantaged businesses to network and build relationships with each other and with large and more established businesses.
  5. Directing each agency to establish goals for contracting with disadvantaged businesses, including with 8(a) businesses -- specifying that these are minimum goals and are not considered a ceiling for such contracting.
  6. Providing the Small Business Administration with an increased role in working with agencies to monitor efforts to increase contracting with disadvantaged businesses and ensure that agencies meet their contracting goals.

HOLDING AGENCIES ACCOUNTABLE FOR RESULTS. The Executive Order holds agencies directly accountable for carrying out the terms of the Order by:

  1. Requiring each agency to develop a long-term comprehensive strategic plan within 90 days of the issuance of the Order and to submit the plan to the Director of the Office of Management and Budget (OMB) for review who will then report to the President on the adequacy of the plans.
  2. Directing each agency head to designate an official at least at the level of Deputy Secretary as the point person for ensuring that the terms of the Executive Order are fulfilled.
  3. Requiring each agency to submit annual reports on the results of their efforts to increase federal contracting with disadvantaged businesses. The Director of OMB will review these reports.

EXPANDING OPPORTUNITIES IN ADVERTISING AND INFORMATION TECHNOLOGY INDUSTRIES. The Clinton/Gore Administration is working to expand opportunities and access to advertising and information technology for disadvantaged businesses, recognizing that these industries play an important role in our economy and society. The Executive Order directs federal departments and agencies to ensure that all creation, placement, and transmission of federal advertising are fully reflective of the nation's diversity. Furthermore, the Order directs each federal department and agency to aggressively seek to ensure small and disadvantaged businesses participate in procurement for information technology and telecommunications industry.

CHALLENGING ADVERTISERS TO ADDRESS DIVERSITY ISSUES. Shortly after the release of the of the FCC-chartered report that found discriminatory business practices against minority broadcasters, Vice President Gore addressed the American Advertising Federation (AAF) and challenged its members to demonstrate their understanding of the value of diversity and the business sense of serving minority customers. In response to the Vice President's challenge, AAF developed the Principles for Effective Advertising in the American Multicultural Marketplace, a strategic plan for boosting minority representation in the advertising industry. The President and Vice President commend AAF for its leadership in adopting these principles.

PROMOTING A DIVERSE WORKFORCE IN THE PRIVATE AND PUBLIC SECTORS. Today, Vice President Gore's National Partnership for Reinventing Government and the U.S. Department of Commerce issued a report highlighting the importance of developing a diverse workforce to achieve success and maintain a competitive advantage. The report, Best Practices in Achieving Workforce Diversity, identifies common themes among nine employers with exceptional success in building diverse staffs. These partners include Coors Brewing Company, DaimlerChrysler, Eastman Kodak, Fannie Mae, The Prudential Insurance Company of America, The Seattle Times, Sempra Energy, U.S. Coast Guard and Xerox.

These organizations had a number of policies in common, including: holding managers responsible for building diverse staffs; taking employee suggestions seriously; and adopting diversity as a management philosophy. Furthermore, each of these employers operates under the premise that diversity is good for business. This report should serve as a model for private and public sectors as they develop their workforce in our diverse society. The report is available online at www.npr.gov and www.doc.gov. To obtain printed copies, please contact the Office of Management and Organization, U.S. Department of Commerce at 202-482-3707.

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