Castro package to improve equity in procurement, state contracts clears SenateState Senator Cristina Castro advanced a legislative package from the Senate to help improve the procurement process in state contracts and provide pivotal economic opportunities and flexibilities to minority-owned businesses, universities, subcontractors, local governments and more.

“While minority- and women-owned businesses continue to face barriers to conducting business with the state, the demand for infrastructure and energy projects continues to boom, creating many more opportunities. This measure will make sure these critical economic opportunities are extended to those who have historically been shut out of the commerce process,” said Castro (D-Elgin). “Through these changes, we continue our work to cut red tape and make Illinois’ business environment more equitable and efficient.”

The measure makes a number of changes to improve state contracts for veterans, women, people with disabilities and minorities, streamline the procurement process, and allow additional flexibility for universities, small businesses and contractors.

The measure would, among other provisions, require additional transparency from corporations that hold state contracts to ensure taxpayer dollars are being spent with a diverse range of contractors and suppliers. It would allow local governments to enter into public-private transportation partnerships, permit the state to enter into master contracts with nonprofit agencies that serve people with disabilities and expand the veteran-owned small business criteria to include businesses earning under $150 million annually, rather than $75 million.

“Creating a streamlined and truly inclusive commerce process has always been at the forefront of this work,” said Castro. “Our minority enterprises are eager to gain bid opportunities, secure contracts and, ultimately, contribute to a thriving economic environment for Illinois workers and businesses.”

Additionally, Castro’s legislation enhances transparency in the Business Enterprise Council by requiring the annual small business report to be made public, ensures conservation guidelines are followed by universities contracting on energy projects and provides exemptions for artistic or musical services, events and fairs.

Castro, who serves as co-chair of the State Procurement Task Force, has been exploring ways to improve diversity in state contracts, foster equity and efficiency, and provide agencies and universities with more flexibility. The package contains a number of provisions to address each of those goals.

House Bill 2878 passed the Senate on Friday.