U of I System seeks to increase opportunities for minority vendors
Proposal includes higher-aspiration goal for construction contacts at UIC
January 9, 2016
CHICAGO — The University of Illinois System would raise goals for spending with businesses owned by minorities, women and people with disabilities under a proposal reviewed Monday by the Board of Trustees’ Audit, Budget, Finance and Facilities Committee.
The proposal, which will be considered by trustees at their Jan. 19 meeting in Chicago, reflects a System-wide commitment to diversity that extends from enrollment and hiring to contracts for construction, supplies and other goods and services, President Tim Killeen said.
“Diversity and inclusion are key pillars in our new strategic framework, a roadmap to the future that seeks to open doors of opportunity and make our universities the gold standard for campus communities that mirror the rich diversity of our state and nation,” Killeen said.
The proposal follows recent changes under the state’s Business Enterprise for Minorities, Females and Persons with Disabilities Act, which was created to promote vendor diversity and sets goals to ensure that businesses owned by minorities, women and people with disabilities are included in the procurement process.
New state guidelines increased goals for businesses owned by minorities and women from 10 percent to 20 percent of total spending for construction projects, matching the 20 percent goal for non-construction contracts awarded by state agencies and universities.
Under the proposal, the U of I System’s goal on construction contracts would increase from 15 percent to 20 percent at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, University of Illinois at Springfield and at the System’s satellite campuses in Peoria and Rockford.
The U of I System’s proposal would exceed state guidelines at the University of Illinois at Chicago (UIC), with a higher aspiration goal of 30 percent for construction projects. Officials say opportunities to impact underserved communities are greater at UIC because most vendors certified under the state’s Business Enterprise Program (BEP) are based in Chicago.
If approved, the proposal would bring UIC in line with Cook County and the City of Chicago, which have goals of over 30 percent in construction spending for minority and women-owned businesses, officials said.
The proposal also encourages university administrators to look beyond supplier diversity by setting workforce diversity goals on certain U of I construction projects, which officials say would help expand opportunities for minority and female workers.
Along with BEP-related increases, the proposal also would set a U of I System goal that 3 percent of state contracts be awarded to small businesses owned by military veterans and disabled veterans, which mirrors goals set by the state to promote opportunities for Illinois veterans.
The proposal also encourages university administrators to investigate increased use of “sheltered markets” to promote supplier diversity. Earlier this year, U of I System awarded the state’s first “sheltered market” contracts in information technology. The “sheltered market” initiative was created after a study found that sectors of the information technology industry were being unfairly excluded from state business.
Under the groundbreaking initiative, 28 minority- and female-owned companies received three-year contracts to provide information technology services on an as-needed basis, augmenting existing staff on the U of I System’s universities in Chicago, Springfield and Urbana-Champaign. Companies will collectively be paid up to $30 million per year over the course of the contracts, based on need for services and availability of funds.
The University of Illinois System is a world leader in research and discovery, the largest educational institution in the state with more than 81,000 students, 24,000 faculty and staff, and campuses in Urbana-Champaign, Chicago and Springfield. The U of I System awards more than 20,000 undergraduate, graduate and professional degrees annually.
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