Thursday, December 04, 2008

Racist Pentagon policy struck down

NB: My family has benefited from such policies as described below, so I know of what I speak. Yes, even 'ole Phib's family can find a way to get hold of "set-asides."

A good Diversity Thursday story from the
WaPo's Joe Davidson's Federal Diary.
...a three-judge panel of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit struck down a Pentagon program that included a 5 percent set-aside for companies run by African Americans, Asian Americans, Hispanic Americans and Native Americans.
Here is what the policy did.
Last month, the panel ruled that the Defense Department erred when it failed to use a "price evaluation adjustment" tool, which allowed the Pentagon to increase bids from white-owned companies by 10 percent before comparing them to firms owned by people of color.
In an increasingly mix-raced culture subject to race-identity confusion (Nigerian immigrant = descendant from African slaves; kid born in Madrid to a Doctor = a kid born in Puerto Rico) and fraud - this is why these policies just do not survive any logic test - nor do any of the affirmative discrimination policies.
The Defense Department allowed International Computer and Telecommunications, a firm then owned by a Korean American couple, to win a computer contract even though its $5.75 million bid was $180,000 more than one submitted by Rothe Development, a San Antonio company owned by a white woman. Rothe sued the government in 1998.
Joe ain't too happy with it all - and shocker here, neither is Congress.
The goal, even at 5 percent, is important because it makes diversity in contracting a priority. Making government acquisition programs work for everyone is not only desirable, but crucial.

Towns, now chairman of the House subcommittee on Government Management, Organization and Procurement, is in line to become chairman of the full committee on Oversight and Government Reform. He plans to hold hearings next year and perhaps move legislation that should satisfy the thirst for strict scrutiny.

"I question the court's finding that there is little evidence of discrimination in federal contracting," Towns said. "We in Congress hear every day from small and minority-owned businesses who have trouble accessing the federal market, and in fact have held hearings documenting these problems. Next year, Congress should hold hearings and pass whatever laws are necessary to ensure that the federal government can continue to encourage development of small and disadvantaged businesses."

Congress should be able to build a solid record of evidence that demonstrates pervasive, nationwide racial discrimination and pass federal contracting legislation -- hopefully Supreme Court-proof -- to correct it. But whether that record will be enough for an increasingly right-leaning Supreme Court remains to be seen.

Let me guess - statistics will be called evidence. How does it work for the Bosnian immigrant at the same level as the Nigerian immigrant again?
Affirmative action is like a Timex watch -- it takes a licking but keeps on ticking. Despite this latest ruling, time has not run out on affirmative action yet.
Shall I start the chant? Why not - Joe, the next President's father was African. Can we Welcome to the 21st Century.

Hat tip Mike.

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