Mayor Mitch Landrieu today announced a series of “sweeping reforms” to city contracting designed to bring a new level of cooperation, transparency and equity to the process.
The awarding of these contracts had been an opaque process, frequently criticized by City Council President Arnie Fielkow as well as many civic and good government groups. The changes are aimed primarily at contracts for professional services, such as those offered by lawyers, architects, consultants, that critics say have enabled a system of political patronage to flourish hidden from public scrutiny.
The reforms include:
- * Establishing a Chief Procurement Officer
- * Largely removing the mayor from the selection process
- * Creating a program to expand the pool of Disadvantaged Business Enterprises that can immediately compete for city business
- * Commissioning a study to determine the gap between the availability of DBE’s and the city’s hiring of such businesses
- * Requiring disclosures of subcontractors
- * Requiring that all documents, including evaluations of selection committee, are made public
- * Institutionalizing the role of the Inspector General in the contracting process
Members of the current administration, the City Council and participants in the New Orleans Contracting and DBE Task Force set up by Landrieu’s transition team were present for the announcement, flanking the mayor during the nearly hourlong presentation at Gallier Hall.
Several stepped forward to address specific areas of concern.
Daniel Davillier, chairman of the New Orleans Regional Black Chamber of Commerce reinforced the need for equity in the process of rewarding contracts to disadvantaged and minority businesses.
“We can all get behind transparency if it is accompanied by equity,” he said, echoing a theme of empowerment of local small businesses to scale up to qualify for a larger share of city contracts.
Landrieu said the efforts as designed to “restore faith” of not just the public but also the private sector and anyone else who sends money to the city of New Orleans.
Landrieu also went on to say that the team tasked with this reform effort was “hard on the problem and soft on the people” in addressing the sensitive issue of reform, which in the past had created some racially polarized conversations in council chambers.
Inspector General Edouard Quatrevaux also was present at today’s event, signaling a strong relationship between the mayor’s office and the inspector general.
Landrieu said the involvement of Quatrevaux’s office does not “slow things down; it speeds things up” so that the city can be “on time and on task”