(ANNAPOLIS – March 5, 2023) – According to sources close to the State of Maryland’s procurement offices, the Minority Business Enterprise (MBE) program’s biggest challenge is resources. Hence, if Gov. Wes Moore is going to make strides in the realm of MBE, he is going to have to put unprecedented resources into the compliance aspect of the various programs in the state’s agencies.
The states around the country with MBE programs follow similarities of the federal government’s model for the DBE Program. However, each state is left to determine for themselves how serious they are about ensuring actual MBEs benefit within their procurement processes.
For instance, in Maryland, procurement professionals can make as much as $115,000 per year. Procurement professionals set the tone for how MBEs are engaged in the process.
Gov. Moore recently stated that he has given his procurement officers 60 days to come up with a plan for agencies to reach the state’s goal of 29% MBE participation. This will take a team effort and hopefully, those who have oversight or work in the MBE Offices are a part of the team.
Inside sources suggest that Small Business Program Compliance professionals need to be paid as much as procurement professionals. Further, compliance offices for the various agencies need money to hire more people to monitor and ensure that prime contractors are playing fair, and that MBEs are actually getting a fair slice of the pie as mandated by law.
Without investing money into compliance, the state’s various MBE programs will find it difficult to change from the way things have been done in the past.
This is exactly the problem with MBE procurement in Baltimore City. Not enough resources go into monitoring the program and also into fraud investigations.
If the majority of the contracts, for instance, are going to white women-owned businesses that are actually fronts for their husbands, then proper investigations require the necessary resources.
Fraud in MBE programs is the silent killer. Hence, with the rise of Black elected officials, holding these programs accountable is tantamount to their success on all levels.