Pursuant to NYS Executive Law Article 15-A, the City University of New York may elect to evaluate the diversity practices of its vendors to include New York State-certified Minority and Women-owned Business Enterprises (“MWBEs”) in their overall business practices. Below are CUNY’s responses to frequently asked questions regarding the evaluation of diversity practices in CUNY procurements.
1. What are diversity practices with respects to CUNY solicitations?
Diversity practices are the efforts of contractors to include New York State-certified Minority and Women-owned Business Enterprises (“MWBEs”) in their overall business practices. Diversity practices may include past, present, or future actions and policies, and include activities of contractors on contracts with private and public entities.
2. Why is CUNY evaluating my organization’s diversity practices?
Assessing the diversity practices of contractors enables New York State and CUNY to engage in a broader, more meaningful, and capacity-building collaborations between contractors and MWBEs in the context of building a diverse network of suppliers.
New York State Executive Law Section 313-a directs the New York State Department of Economic Development to establish rules and regulations requiring state agencies to assess the diversity practices of contractors. CUNY recommends that all questions regarding this section of the Executive Law be referred to the Division of Minority and Women’s Business Development of the New York State Department of Economic Development.
3. Will diversity practices be evaluated in every CUNY procurement?
No. CUNY will only evaluate diversity practices of respondents in procurements where this evaluation is practicable, feasible and appropriate and only in best value (RFP) procurements where the estimated value is at or greater than $250,000.
4. Will my proposal be deemed “non-responsive” if I do not submit answers to the diversity practices questionnaire?
Each solicitation will detail the minimum qualification(s) of all proposers and the information required for a proposal to be considered “responsive”. All respondents are strongly suggested to review the solicitation documents and submit a complete and accurate response.
5. How many technical points may be awarded to the diversity practices questionnaire?
The point values associated with the diversity practice evaluation is specific to each procurement. Proposers are strongly recommended to review all aspects of the solicitation document and how each technical section may be evaluated.
6. May I submit the same answers to the diversity practice questionnaire to multiple CUNY solicitations?
Vendors are strongly encouraged to carefully review each solicitation document. However, the questions contained in the diversity practices questionnaire are not specific to each procurement, but rather specific to the diversity practices of your organization.
7. Who should I direct my questions to regarding the diversity practice questionnaire?
All questions regarding the solicitation must be addressed to the Designated Contact Person.
8. I’m not sure how to answer these questions. Is there anyone who can assist?
Organized and operated independently of CUNY, a Procurement Technical Assistance Center (PTAC) and New York Small Business Development Centers (SBDC) are available on certain CUNY campuses. These third-party resources can provide assistance with responding to a wide range of CUNY and Federal, State, and City solicitations. Contact information for these organizations is available on cuny.edu/selltocuny.
HOW ARE SOME OF THE DIVERSITY PRACTICES QUESTIONS EVALUATED
1. Does your company have a Chief Diversity Officer or other individual who is tasked with supplier diversity initiatives? Yes or No. If Yes, provide the name, title, description of duties, and evident of initiatives performed by this individual or individuals.
This question solely addresses whether the respondent employs a chief diversity officer. In order to receive points for a response to this question, a respondent should provide all of the information requested, including evidence of initiatives performed by the chief diversity officer. Merely identifying a chief diversity officer without providing the requested information may result in a score of zero.
2. What percentage of your company’s gross revenues (from your prior fiscal year) was paid to New York State certified minority and/or women-owned business enterprises as subcontractors, suppliers, joint-venturers, partners or other similar arrangement for the provision of goods or services to your company’s clients or customers? What percentage of your company’s overhead (i.e. those expenditures that are not directly related to the provision of goods or services to your company’s clients or customers) or non-contract-related expenses (from your prior fiscal year) was paid to New York State certified minority- and women-owned business enterprises as suppliers/contractors?
These questions direct respondents to provide information on the share of expenditures that the respondents made with MWBEs. Only the prior fiscal year of a respondent may be taken into account. Any additional data that respondents provide illustrating expenditures made with MWBEs in other fiscal years will be disregarded. In addition, any data regarding expenditures made to businesses certified as MWBEs by an entity other than the State of New York may be disregarded. Expenditures made to businesses with certifications other than MWBE, such as Disadvantaged Business Enterprises and Service-Disabled Veteran-owned Business Enterprises, are not to be considered in this analysis.
3. Does your company provide technical training to minority- and women-owned business enterprises? Yes or No. If Yes, provide a description of such training which should include, but not be limited to, the date the program was initiated, the names and the number of minority- and women-owned business enterprises participating in such training, the number of years such training has been offered and the number of hours per year for which such training occurs.
Respondents may score points in response to this question by identifying industry-specific technical training of MWBEs. Technical training is specific to the industry in question, and does not include generic training in skills that are transferrable across industries. Examples of trainings that do not qualify as technical training include trainings in managerial skills and leadership, effective communication, and professional development and networking. Examples of technical training topics include the use, installation, or safe handling of particular products, the use of industry-specific IT, and industry-specific sales and customer service strategies. In assessing the robustness of a respondent’s technical training, CUNY may take into account the duration of the technical training program, the number of MWBEs served, and the total number of hours devoted to technical training of MWBEs. The characteristics of a robust technical training program will vary based upon the nature of the industry and the associated opportunities for MWBE training. However, characteristics of technical training programs fitting the “minimum” scoring criterion will typically be that the respondent has been providing technical training for one year or less, that the respondent has provided fewer than one hundred hours of technical training, or that the respondent has provided technical training to only one MWBE firm in a contracting area for which there is significant MWBE availability.
4. Is your company participating in a government approved minority- and women-owned business enterprise mentor-protégé program?
In order for a respondent to receive points for its response to this question, the respondent must provide documentation demonstrating its participation in a mentor-protégé program approved by a governmental entity. Such governmental entity need not necessarily be the State of New York. Appropriate documentation of the existence of a mentor-protégé program will vary based upon the approving governmental entity. Documents generated by a governmental entity may be accepted to demonstrate the existence of a mentor-protégé program. A robust mentor-protégé program must include the following elements:
- The mentee must be able to meaningfully participate in the delivery of contract requirements.
- For services contracts: at least one element of the scope must be performed by the MWBE with the Prime serving as mentor. Multi-year contracts must have a plan in place to expose the MWBE to each element of the scope through the lifetime of the contract.
- Mentor and mentee must enter into an agreement, approved by a governmental entity, which outlines the expectations of each party.
- Specific metrics must be identified which will be used to measure the effectiveness and success of the Mentor/Protégé relationship.
5. Does your company include specific quantitative goals for the utilization of minority- and women-owned business enterprises in its non-government procurements? Yes or No. If Yes, provide a description of such non-government procurements (including time period, goal, scope and dollar amount) and indicate the percentage of the goals that were attained.
This question evaluates both the existence of MWBE goals on the part of the respondent in its own contracting, and the respondent’s achievement of these goals. Whether a goal is robust depends on the availability of MWBEs in the industry in question. One tool to assist you in determining the availability of MWBE firms in the industry is the New York State Contract System MWBE Directory <https://ny.newnycontracts.com/>. This analysis should, to the extent possible, be based upon subcontracting activities that are available in the industry in which the respondent is engaged, not solely the availability of MWBE subcontractors for the procurement being made by your organization.
6. Does your company have a formal minority- and women-owned business enterprise supplier diversity program? Yes or No. If Yes, provide documentation of program activities and a copy of policy or program materials.
This question considers whether a respondent has an immersive, formal program to promote the use of MWBEs as suppliers. A formal supplier diversity program must be documented via a program policy manual or similar document describing the requirements for participation and elements of the program, as well as documentation of program activities. Characteristics of a supplier diversity program meeting the minimum requirement for the respondent to be awarded points could include a supplier diversity program with weak verification procedures focused solely on creating a list of diverse suppliers from which the respondent may procure goods or services. A robust supplier diversity program may be characterized by rigorous verification of MWBE status, plans for outreach to MWBE suppliers, and training and education programs designed to increase the capacity of MWBE suppliers.