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Mayor Dan Horrigan Releases Procurement And Inclusion Report

Report Is The Result Of 18 Months Of Research And Analysis Regarding Strategies To Increase Access To Opportunity For Minority Businesses Looking To Do Business With The City Of Akron

Akron, Ohio, June 1, 2020 – Today, Akron Mayor Dan Horrigan is releasing the City of Akron Procurement and Inclusion Report to Akron City Council and the Akron community. The report—first foreshadowed during Mayor Horrigan’s 2020 State of the City Address—is the result of 18 months of research and comparative analysis aimed at developing strategies to increase access to opportunity for minority-owned, women-owned, disadvantaged, and local businesses looking to do business with the City of Akron.

The Elevate Akron report released in 2018 contained data showing that Akron’s black population has been excluded from opportunity. One of the strategies adopted in the Elevate Akron report was ensuring that Akron’s black population is positioned to engage in, and benefit from, regional growth and prosperity. The report spurred Mayor Horrigan and the City of Akron Finance Department to take a critical look at the City’s own contracting practices and the diversity of the City’s purchases. G. Stephens Inc, a successful, local, minority-owned construction management firm, provided professional consultation to the City in developing the report.

Starting in November 2019, the team began to evaluate the current procurement and contracting processes in both the City’s Purchasing Division and Engineering Bureau to determine if diverse vendors and contractors were provided sufficient opportunity. The goal of this critical evaluation was to increase economic inclusion in City practices, improve racial and gender inequity in our community, and advance opportunities for all.

“We cannot simply talk the talk, as leaders we must walk the walk,” Mayor Dan Horrigan said. “As I announced in my State of the City Address just a few months ago, minority-owned businesses received just five percent of the City’s purchasing and contracting budgets last year. That’s simply unacceptable to me. And today I’m pleased to release that plan with specific strategies to meaningfully increase that number, as well as steps we have already taken to implement those strategies.”

Shelley Goodrich, Deputy Director of Finance, a primary author of the report, said “In order for the City to effectuate change and be more inclusive of populations and businesses who historically lack access to opportunities, we must update both our practices and City regulations related to purchasing. We conducted extensive research related to what other cities have done, successfully, to move the needle in the right direction and tailored those recommendations to the unique characteristics of the Akron community. Glen Stephens and his team were indispensable assets to us as we embarked on this task of learning, listening, and improving as an organization.”

The Summary of Recommendations in the Procurement and Inclusion Report are, as follows:

  1. Perform a comprehensive review of and revision to the City Charter to align with current municipal best practices for threshold amounts.

  • STATUS: Mayor Horrigan submitted a proposal to the 2020 Charter Review Commission on May 19, 2020 to modify Section 95 of the Charter to eliminate complex and costly bidding procedures for smaller contracts—providing greater accessibility for small and minority-owned businesses to compete. The Charter Review Commission approved the changes, which will be presented to City Council in July for potential submission to the voters in November.

  1. Purchase and implement a comprehensive technology system(s) to allow maximum efficiency and transparency for all municipal departments and external users.

  • STATUS: Mayor Horrigan submitted legislation, which was approved by Akron City Council on April 20, 2020, to purchase a Workday enterprise resource programming solution which will significantly modernize City technology, and improve efficiency and access to City contracting opportunities. Collaborative implementation of this new software will begin in 2020 and is expected to be complete by April 2021.

  1. Conduct a comprehensive overhaul of the Purchasing Division to modernize and align with current municipal best practices.

  • STATUS: The City administration is working on proposed improvements to the City Code of Ordinances, which will complement the proposed Charter changes, to be presented to Akron City Council in the coming months. Internally, the City is evaluating and developing policies related to creating and implementing a culture of outreach, compliance, transparency, and inclusion.

  1. Recruit and hire a Diversity and Inclusion Director to develop a business program which reflects municipal best practices.

  • STATUS: The City is finalizing the job description for this new, game-changing position and hopes to hire an individual by the end of 2020.

  1. Join the Government Alliance on Race and Equity (GARE) to provide resources that will help develop methods to become more inclusive.

  • STATUS: The City of Akron has already reached out to the GARE for resources and information, and will formally join the organization in 2020.

Full implementation of all the detailed recommendations outlined in the report is estimated to take up to 20 months. A copy of the full report is available here.

“While the COVID-19 pandemic has forced us to focus our budget on the most essential investments, I firmly believe that increasing access to opportunity and eliminating institutional barriers that have held Akron’s black community back from achieving success is an essential investment, not just in 2020 but well beyond,” Mayor Dan Horrigan said. “We cannot simply cling to calls for equity when it is convenient or comfortable – we must be willing to put in the difficult work of creating real change in our own organizations. This report, and the 18 months of work behind it, the first steps on a long road to achieve the recommendations suggested. I look forward to continuing to work with City Council, and other stakeholders, to make these goals a reality. Because, as long as I’m Mayor of Akron, we will put our money where our mouth is when it comes to diversity, equity and inclusion.”

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