Minority And Women Owned Businesses Get A Boost In New York
Governor David A. Paterson final report from the Minority and Women-Owned Business Enterprise (MWBE) Task Force, the capstone of the State’s evaluation of its use of MWBEs. The Task Force began its work at the direction of the Governor in June 2008 to review how authorities issuing State-supported debt selected underwriters and other professional services. Following a thorough examination of State procurement processes, the Task Force delivered a series of recommendations designed to provide MWBEs with an opportunity to compete for contracts. The final report outlines how the adoption of these recommendations have led to significant improvement in the utilization of MWBEs, setting a foundation for future progress and making New York a national leader in MWBE economic development.
Below is an Introduction to the report:
“For many years, there has been an old boys’ network when it came to selling a variety of
bonds. The team you put in business must be reflective of the community you are serving. The
MWBE program and the work of Governor Paterson’s Executive Order No. 10 Task Force have
definitely leveled the playing field. It has encouraged my firm to partner with MWBE firms to our
mutual benefit. Diversity is good business. More and more majority owned firms are beginning
to understand that.”
Roger Blissett, Managing Director US Strategy, RBC Capital Markets
On June 26, 2008 Governor Paterson signed Executive Order No. 10 which established a Task
Force to increase the utilization of Minority and Women-Owned Business Enterprise (“MWBE”)
professional firms in State debt offerings (“Task Force”). The Task Force was comprised of the
executive directors or presidents of the Dormitory Authority, the Empire State Development
Corporation, the Environmental Facilities Corporation, the New York State Housing Finance
Agency, the New York State Thruway Authority, and three members appointed by the Governor.
The Governor’s current appointees are: Charlotte Hitchcock, Chief of Staff to the Governor and
Dr. Celia Gonzalez, Deputy Comptroller for Diversity, Office of the State Comptroller. (The
third appointed seat is currently vacant.) The initial charge of the Task Force under Executive
Order No. 10 was to develop recommendations concerning underwriters. The Task Force
focused on the process used for new solicitations for underwriting services, syndicate formation
and designation policies as well as underwriting performance measures to evaluate all investment
banks. The Task Force issued its Underwriter Recommendations on October 30, 2008.
The Task Force next turned its attention to determining ways to increase the utilization of
MWBE law firms that serve as legal counsel to the issuers of State-supported debt and other
public authorities, a majority of whose members are appointed by the Governor (collectively
referred to as “State Public Authorities”). Accordingly, the Task Force was charged with
developing a set of Recommendations for Best Practices (“Best Practices”) to be utilized in the
Request for Proposals (“RFP”) process in an attempt to remove any barriers to participation by
qualified MWBE law firms and to utilize other law firms that have sound diversity practices and
programs and that provide meaningful opportunities for the advancement of minority and women
attorneys. The Task Force issued its Recommendations Regarding Best Practices in
Procurements for Legal Services on May 11, 2009.
The Task Force’s next area of attention was financial services firms. The specific financial
services examined were: accounting, financial advisor, swap advisor, broker-dealers, banks and
money market funds, risk management, title insurance and insurance brokerage services.
Accordingly, the Task Force developed a set of Recommendations for Best Practices (“Best
Practices”) to be utilized in the Request for Proposals (“RFP”) process, or other qualification
process (i.e., provisions included in State Public Authority Investment Guidelines), in an attempt
to remove any barriers to participation by qualified MWBE firms and to utilize other firms that
have sound diversity practices and programs and that provide meaningful opportunities for the
advancement of minority and women financial service professionals. The Task Force issued its
Recommendations Regarding Best Practices in Financial Services on November 23, 2009.
The members of the Task Force are committed to ensuring that the Best Practices and their
resounding success to date will continue beyond the presentation of this report. On July 21, 2009
the Task Force convened a meeting to discuss the history of the statutory framework in New
York in regard to MWBEs and perceived limitations in existing legislation. Staff also presented
statutory and administrative ideas to increase MWBE participation that included amendments
and expansions of existing models in the State. Regulatory models were also presented based on
their successful applications by public and private entities in other jurisdictions. The Task Force
has since drafted legislation that seeks to hold both public authorities and potential vendors
accountable for diversity and MWBE participation.
The work of the Task Force has been unprecedented and has covered areas of service
traditionally excluded from Article 15-A of the Executive Law1. Each of these areas has been
adversely affected by what many have deemed one of the worst economic downturns since the
Great Depression. Additionally, for over a decade, MWBE firms involved in financial and legal
services struggled to carve out any market share in New York State debt issuance. During that
time, the State enjoyed one of the lowest rankings for MWBE utilization in the nation. However,
since the onset of the Task Force initiative, many MWBE firms are showing strong signs of
growth in this challenging environment. It has been the goal of the Task Force to recommend
policies that support these firms by leveling the playing field to allow for fair and robust
competition. Enhanced competition benefits the State by providing opportunities for better
execution, better pricing and more creative solutions to difficult questions that arise in debt
issuance. Firms with a diverse workforce are more likely to have the best talent and spark
innovation.2 So, the growth of MWBE firms and support for firms in general which demonstrate
commitment to women and minority professionals will serve to strengthen New York’s
competitive balance in the global economy.
Executive Order No. 10 required that the Task Force submit a Preliminary Report to the
Governor evaluating the performance of the State-Supported Debt Issuers in the utilization of
MWBE underwriting firms as well as a Final Report to the Governor detailing each State
Supported Debt Issuer’s performance practices. The Preliminary Report to the Governor,
submitted on April 28, 2009, reported that designations to MWBE underwriting firms had
increased from four percent in 2007 to over 23 percent in 2008. This Final Report shows that
further progress continues to be made. Designations to MWBE underwriting firms increased
from over 23% in 2008 to over 28% in 2009.
Set forth in this Final Report are the results of the work of the Task Force and the Statesupported
debt issuers since the inception of the Task Force. This report includes a discussion of
the process and outreach undertaken to develop all of the aforementioned “Best Practices” as
well as specific data for each of the individual State-supported debt issuers in the following
areas: underwriting, legal services, accounting, financial advisor, swap advisor, broker-dealers,
banks, money market funds and risk management/insurance brokerage services and title
We have also included in the Appendices all of the relevant documentation generated by the
Task Force. We have done so to provide others with a clear understanding of the manner in
which we have developed our work product and also as a tool for those who may wish to
undertake a similar initiative.
1 In November 2009 Chapter 506 of the Laws of 2009 amended Article 15-A of the New York State Executive law
to include financial and professional services.
2 See The Business Case for Diversity, Chicago Lawyer, July 2006, and Embracing Diversity: Your Business
Depends on It, Texas Bar Journal, November 2005.