City of Chicago using settlement to support minority, women contractors

February 27, 2012

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The city of Chicago is using money from a settlement to go toward its minority and women contracting program.

Allied Waste Transportation has paid Chicago $11 million for noncompliance with its minority-owned and women-owned businesses program. Now the city plans to use that settlement to strengthen oversight.

Shannon Andrews is the deputy procurement officer for the city. She said the money will help tear down some of the red tape for contractors.

"It is going to give us an opportunity to accelerate some of the programs that we have in place to make certain that minority- and women-owned businesses have the tools and resources they know that they need to successful compete on city of Chicago contracts," Andrews said.

Those programs include training classes, unannounced visits to city work sites to ensure compliance and more money for contract monitoring.

Historically, the M/WBE program has had issues dealing with everything from mismanagement to fraud. A 2010 city inspector general report on the minority and women business program highlighted fraud, abuse and mismanagement. And an analysis of 2008 contracts found that payments to MWBEs and Disadvantaged Business Enterprises were more than 15 percent less than the city’s publicly reported statistics.

Former Chicago Mayor Harold Washington started the affirmative action program for city contracts in 1985.