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U of I approves ‘sheltered market’ contracts for IT services
Awards are first under initiative to support minority-, female-owned businesses

March 16, 2016

URBANA, Ill. – The University of Illinois Board of Trustees on Wednesday approved the state’s first contracts under a new Illinois purchasing initiative enacted to attract more minority and female-owned businesses as vendors for state agencies and universities.

Under the groundbreaking awards, 28 minority- and female-owned companies will receive three-year contracts to provide information technology services on an as-needed basis, augmenting existing staff on the university’s campuses in Chicago, Springfield and Urbana-Champaign. The contracts take effect July 1, 2016.

The university received bids from 45 companies after issuing the state’s first request-for-proposal last April through the new “sheltered market” initiative, which followed years of work by the state to address disparities in contracting IT and telecommunications services by state entities.

The “sheltered market” initiative allows certain state contracts to be set aside specifically for businesses owned by minorities, females and people with disabilities, and was established after an Illinois Business Enterprise Program Council disparity study found that sectors of the IT/telecommunications industry were being unfairly excluded from state business.

President Tim Killeen said the first-of-their-kind awards reflect a deep, broad-based commitment to diversity that extends from student enrollment and faculty/staff hiring to the companies that provide goods and services.

“I am proud of our leadership on this important issue and the opportunities we are providing for minority- and female owned companies to grow and prosper, through their new relationships with the university and additional contracts that their track record of success will foster," Killeen said.

The new initiative builds on university efforts that also include standards that exceed state guidelines under the Business Enterprise Program for Minorities, Females and Persons with Disabilities (BEP), which sets goals to ensure that firms owned by minorities, women and people with disabilities are included in the procurement process.

Contracts – awarded to 14 minority owned businesses, 10 female minority owned businesses and four female owned businesses – will provide as-needed IT staffing and services from July 1, 2016, through June 30, 2019.

The contracts, which include options for two, one-year renewals, will provide IT services in a variety of categories, from system planning and security services to website development and classroom applications.

Companies will collectively be paid up to $30 million per year over the course of the three-year contracts, based on need for services and availability of funds. University officials said spending for temporary IT services over the last three years has ranged from $22 million to $41 million annually.

Later this month, the university’s Office of Procurement Diversity will host its fourth annual Professional Services Diversity Symposium, which seeks to build new vendor relationships with businesses owned by minorities, females, people with disabilities and veterans. The conference is scheduled for March 31 at the UIC Forum on the Chicago campus.

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The University of Illinois is a world leader in research and discovery, the largest educational institution in the state with more than 80,000 students, 24,000 faculty and staff, and campuses in Urbana-Champaign, Chicago and Springfield. The U of I awards more than 20,000 undergraduate, graduate and professional degrees annually.

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