The Pennsylvania State System of Higher Education (System) promotes and supports the involvement of small diverse businesses in facilities projects contracts, at both the prime contract level and the subcontractor and supplier level.
For a number of years, the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania, the Department of General Services (DGS), and the System had a Minority Business Enterprise (MBE) and Woman Business Enterprise (WBE) program. The DGS and System programs were based on the same concepts, but were administered slightly differently. For construction contracts, the System required prime bidders to "proactively solicit" written quotes from MBE/WBE for portions of the work. Quotes from MBE/WBE competed directly against quotes from majority firms, and if their quote was the lowest received, subcontracts or supply orders were to be awarded to MBE/WBE for that work. For design contracts and other Professional services contracts selected on technical merit, the System usually included in the evaluation and selection the proposers' utilization of MBE/WBE.
The Commonwealth of Pennsylvania and DGS recently made changes to their program. A Small Business Initiative was started in July 2012. It set aside certain small procurements for small businesses. Additionally, Act 185 of 2012 was enacted, establishing a Veterans Business Enterprise and Service-Disabled Veteran Business Enterprise program. And, in 2013, DGS changed their MBE/WBE Program to a Small Diverse Business (SDB) Program, incorporating small businesses which are of the minority, woman, veteran, and service-disabled veteran categories.
The System is in the process of expanding its program to incorporate SDBs. The proactive solicitation process during the bidding period is being retained, but it requires the solicitation of written quotes from SDBs, and not MBEs/WBEs. SDBs must be in the DGS database. The System's program expansion is taking place as the System's universities adopt the System's revised construction contract. During the adoption period, universities' bidding opportunities may include either the MBE/WBE requirement or the SDB requirement. Interested firms should ensure they know what the specific bidding opportunity calls for.
The System may, in future years, re-evaluate the System's overall programs to determine if any revisions are needed.
During past years, CSO retained Clark Resources, a diversity consulting firm from Harrisburg, to work with the System to support MBE/WBE program efforts in construction. However, those efforts have been curtailed due to budgetary reasons.