Report: White Males Given 96 Percent of Philadelphia Contracts

Thu April 29, 2004 - National Edition

PHILADELPHIA (AP) Firms owned by white males were given 96 percent of city contracts from 1998 through 2003, a new city report found.

The overwhelming majority of the city’s $2.78 billion in contracts for construction, goods and services were awarded to white males despite a pledge from Mayor John Street, who is African American, to increase diversity in the government.

Minority-owned businesses received 2.3 percent of the contracts and 1.8 percent went to firms owned by women. Street was elected in November 1999 and was in office for four years during the study period.

Administration officials have said the long-standing problem would take time to fix. They plan to use the report to reorganize the Minority Business Enterprise Council, the city agency that implements, monitors and enforces the city’s contractor-diversity laws, The Philadelphia Inquirer reported in its Sunday, April 18, editions.

A. Bruce Crawley, chairman of the African-American Chamber of Commerce in Greater Philadelphia, called the report’s findings “outrageous.” Crawley, a one-time political ally of Street’s, has been criticizing the mayor of late, claiming he has not done enough to help minority businesses.

Earlier this month, Street appointed Michael Williams, a former deputy director of Community Legal Services, to head the Minority Business Enterprise Council.

“This is why I’m here — to change these numbers,” Williams said. “I know that we can do a better job.”

The report comes a year after a study was released that examined local government spending from 1983 to 1995 and suggested women and minorities had lost millions in contracting opportunities. Both reports were done by Atlanta-based D.J. Miller & Associates.