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Pruning the Overgrowth of Government Contracting Preferences

Engage Volume 12, Issue 2, September 2011
By George R. La Noue
August 23, 2011

Pruning the Overgrowth of Government Contracting PreferencesThe policy of creating preferences for businesses owned at least fifty-one percent by members of “minority” groups is now more than three decades old. In 1977, Congressman Parren Mitchell, the head of the Congressional Black Caucus, inserted into the Public Works Employment Act an amendment guaranteeing that at least ten percent of the funding of all contracts under this program be awarded to minorities (“blacks, Hispanics, Asians, Native Americans, Eskimos and Aleuts”). In Fullilove v. Klutznick, the Supreme Court, in a ruling without a clear standard of review, decided that the expenditure program was constitutional. After the Court’s response to these federal racial preferences, copycat programs spread to a variety of federal agencies and to many state and local governments where the political climate was favorable...