President Barack Obama signed an executive order that will benefit Asian American and Pacific Islander (AAPI) communities and AAPI business owners.
Like all Americans, AAPIs have been hit hard by the economic crisis. Poverty rates and layoffs for AAPIs are on the rise, which is why the inter-agency task force on federal contracting opportunities for small businesses couldn’t come at a better time. Totaling more than $500 billion per year, the federal government is the world’s largest purchaser of goods and services. However, AAPI-owned businesses have largely been absent in these exchanges. Many AAPI-owned businesses are small businesses, which is why the initiative’s focus on small businesses can be a boon for AAPI communities.
Congressionally established goals for small business and minority participation in federal contracting are already in place, but the president’s executive order reiterates the government’s commitment to meeting those goals. At least 23 percent of all federal contracting dollars are meant for small businesses. The 3 percent target for small businesses located in historically underutilized business zones and 5 percent for socially and economically disadvantaged individuals can help AAPI communities in particular. ♦
For more information, visit the Asian American Justice Center’s website at www.advancingequality.org.
Roger Clegg, Ctr for Equal Opportunity says
Why do race or ethnicity need to be considered at all in deciding who gets awarded a contract? It’s fine to make sure contracting programs are open to all, that bidding opportunities are widely publicized beforehand, and that no one gets discriminated against because of skin color or national origin. But that means no preferences because of skin color or what country your ancestors came from either–whether it’s labeled a “set-aside,” a “quota,” or a “goal,” since they all end up amounting to the same thing. Such discrimination is unfair and divisive; it costs the taxpayers money to award a contract to someone other than the lowest bidder; and it’s almost always illegal—indeed, unconstitutional—to boot (see 42 U.S.C. section 1981 and comments we submitted to the Colorado DOT here: http://www.ceousa.org/content/view/655/86/ ). Those who insist on engaging in such discrimination deserve to be sued, and they will lose.