More than a year after New Orleans Mayor Mitch Landrieu hired a point person to boost the share of public contracts that go to minority- and women-owned businesses, administration officials said they have quickened the pace of certifying disadvantaged business enterprises and are close to achieving the 35 percent DBE participation goal set out by the New Orleans City Council in 2010. Norman Roussell, who heads Landrieu’s Office of Supplier Diversity, told a council committee Tuesday that DBEs represented a 32 percent share of all bids submitted for city work in the last 11 months of 2011.
When asked how that compares with DBE participation since Hurricane Katrina, Roussell said data was not available before he was hired in December 2010. Instead, he cited his first full month on the job in January 2011, when DBEs made up 16 percent of all submissions.
The records on certifications was more clear.
Roussell said his office certified 36 companies as DBEs last year, including several that were part of a three-year backlog of certification requests. That compares with 21 firms that were cleared as DBEs in 2010, he said, adding that the boost owed to outreach efforts to industry organizations.
Even after picking up the pace, only 450 companies are qualified as DBEs with the city. That figure that should be closer to 2,000, Roussell said.
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