Inslee signs Executive Order for Equity in Public Contracting and announces intention to rescind Directive 98-01

Gov. Jay Inslee made two announcements today related to breaking down systemic barriers around race and increasing equity.

First, he issued a new executive order on Equity in Public Contracting (EO 22-01) and announced he would rescind Directive 98-01.

“Washington’s diversity is our greatest strength, and it is only by leveling the playing field that it becomes possible for all Washingtonians to thrive and live healthy and successful lives,” Inslee said. “Today’s announcements are systemic changes that are designed to break down barriers that have kept too many Washingtonians on the sidelines for too long.”

Executive Order 22-01 for Equity in Public Contracting

EO 22-01 requires executive and small cabinet agencies to adopt the best practices in the toolkit, and to work with the Office of Minority and Women’s Business Enterprises (OMWBE) on inclusive outreach and accurate data reporting. This executive order supports the Department of Enterprise Services (DES) to bolster the number of certified minority-, women-, and veteran-owned business on state master contracts. The Washington State Department of Transportation (WSDOT) and DES are reviewing whether bonding, insurance, and experience requirements in state contracting present unnecessary obstacles to the participation of minority-, women-, and veteran-owned businesses, and if so, whether such obstacles can be mitigated or eliminated.

“This executive order takes years of work by the Governor’s Subcabinet and turns it into actionable processes that state agencies can use to meet their diversity goals,” said Lisa van der Lugt, Director of OMWBE.  “This collaborative effort will result in minority-, women-, and veteran-owned businesses breaking through barriers that have made it difficult to participate in contracting opportunities with the State of Washington. We are stronger when we work together, and when we look to those that have made the most progress to share their knowledge freely—resulting in a larger share of state-funded work and profits going to the businesses that need it the most.”

Read the full executive order here.

Rescission of Directive 98-01

The governor has decided to rescind Directive 98-01, a 23-year-old document that was supposed to provide agencies with instructions on how to implement Initiative 200 (I-200) on affirmative action. Instead, the directive was overly restrictive. Within the next 10 days, the governor will issue a replacement executive order that will instruct agencies on how to move forward with achieving equity while still complying with I-200.

“Governor Inslee said that he believes that Washington is an anti-racist state and will take action to hold our state government to that commitment. We are grateful for this bold action and look forward to working in solidarity with others to embed equity and justice into every state contacting action,” said Dr. Karen A. Johnson, the state’s first director of the Office of Equity.

On June 19, 2019, the governor’s Subcabinet on Business Diversity published the 2019 Washington State Disparity Study, which examined disparities in public spending by the state. The study confirmed unequal access to state contracting opportunities across Washington for minority-, women-, and veteran-owned businesses.

The Governor’s Subcabinet on Business Diversity has worked diligently toward remedying these disparities and to carry out the recommendations of the disparity study. This multiagency collaboration resulted in the launch of the Tools for Equity in Public Spending on Jan. 1, 2021, and the release of this executive order 22-01, putting Washington on a path to contracting equity.

“This executive order is one of many important steps towards equity that will be instrumental in facilitating the cultural changes statewide necessary to address the lack of opportunities for these businesses identified in the 2019 Disparity Study,” Inslee said. “This leads to a more resilient economy, more opportunities, innovation and more money going back into our communities.”

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