Community Colleges Have New Aspirational Goals for Contracts Awarded to Minorities, Females, and Persons with Disabilities

Nov 20, 2015

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The Business Enterprise for Minorities, Females, and Persons with Disabilities Act, 30 ILCS 575/0.01 et. seq. (the “Business Enterprise Act” or “Act”) provides aspirational goals for the percentage of certain State contracts awarded to businesses owned by minorities, females, and persons with disabilities.  On August 25, 2015, the Governor signed Senate Bill 1334 into law as Public Act 99-0462.  This public act expands the Business Enterprise Act to include community colleges among the institutions subject to the aspirational goals. 

In general, the Act states that, for construction contracts and certain types of professional service contracts, community colleges should aspire to award 20% of those contracts to businesses owned by minorities, females and persons with disabilities.  Although the Act’s definitions could be interpreted to apply to all college contracts, we believe the intended scope of the Act is for construction and certain professional service contracts.  While the 20% goal is only aspirational, the Act also establishes certain requirements to encourage community colleges to take tangible action in an attempt to meet the goals.  For example, to comply with the Business Enterprise Act, community colleges must:

  • Adopt policies identifying the college’s plan and implementation procedures for attempting to increase the use of businesses and professional service firms owned by minorities, females, and persons with disabilities in accordance with the Act’s goals.
  • Appoint a liaison to the Business Enterprise Council for Minorities, Females, and Persons With Disabilities (the “Council”) which is created under the Act to help implement, monitor, and enforce the goals of the Act. The liaison must be appointed by the college president, and is responsible for submitting any reports or documents necessary under the Act.
  • File annual compliance plans with the Council that outline the college’s goals for compliance with the Act, the manner in which the college intends to attempt to reach these goals, and a timetable for reaching, or at least attempting to reach, these goals.
  • File with the Council an annual report of the college’s utilization of businesses owned by minorities, females, and persons with disabilities during the preceding fiscal year. The report must include a self-evaluation of the college’s efforts to meet the goals under this Act.

Because the goals are aspirational, there is no consequence for failure to achieve the goals.  However, the Act does require community colleges to undertake certain efforts (noted above) to attempt to reach the goals.  As a result, some policy modification will be necessary.  These new aspirational goals for community colleges should be integrated into existing college purchasing polices, along with a compliance plan to show good-faith efforts to attempt to meet them.  Public Act 99-0462 provides that commencing in September 2016, the Council will begin filing reports with the Governor and the General Assembly regarding community colleges’ compliance with the Business Enterprise Act.  Please feel free to contact us to discuss your college’s next steps for policy updates to comply with the Business Enterprise Act.