On Tuesday, November 19th, members of the DC City Council introduced two pieces of legislation that would drastically alter the way in which Certified Business Enterprises (CBE’s) are regulated and operated within the District. The first piece of legislation was Bill 23-0545, the “Small Business Procurement Reform Omnibus Amendment Act of 2019” was introduced by Councilman Kenyan McDuffie and had 6 other co-introducers. The second piece of legislation was Bill 23-0549, the “Local Business Support Amendment Act of 2019”. Bill 23-0549 was co-introduced by Councilmembers Kenyan McDuffie and David Grosso.
As currently introduced, this legislative package would create a Certified Business Enterprise (CBE) Ombudsman. This independent authority would oversee all complaints; disputes and questions related to the CBE process. The Ombudsman would be an independently appointed position and would be appointed to individual 5-year terms. As part of new department, the legislation would also create an anonymous reporting mechanism for those who are in violation of the district’s CBE laws or who are operating shell companies.
The package would also create a new set of standardized categories and a new standardized program compliance function with both standardized and random site visits. It would also create new rules around the use of CBE preference points and would prohibit companies from using CBE preference points on subcontracts in which there is any percentage of shared ownerships between the companies.
Both pieces of legislation, which were referred by Chair Pro-Temp McDuffies’s Committee on Business and Workforce Development, were drafted as responses to the District’s sole source sports gambling contract. While neither drafted with the Development and Construction industries in mind, they will have a major impact on the way in which business is done in the District. Currently, there has not been a hearing schedule for this package of legislation. It is expected that both bills will be part of a joint hearing with a package of CBE legislation introduced earlier in the legislative session.