WASHINGTON, Sept. 16, 2015 – At a July 10 public hearing on the inspector general’s “Audit of DC Government Agencies Small Business Expenditure Goals,” the committee chairman of the Business, Consumer & Regulatory Affairs Committee, Vincent Orange Sr., threatened to draw a line in the sand on Sept. 1 and enforce his newly invented “30-day rule.”
Orange said he expected observation of the “‘60-day rule,’ which requires DSLBD [Department of Small and Local Business Development] to reach out to District agencies to develop their expendable budgets two months before the start of the new fiscal year,” as well as adherence to his “‘30-day Rule,’ [by] which on September 1 we will be able to actually to articulate what the spending plans are after the execution of their Allocation Letter,” which was expected to be posted on the DSLBD web site like an agency forecast.
In July, councilman Orange, who has taken on the mantle of former Mayor-for-Life Marion Barry—that once indomitable force that established an aggressive minority business opportunity program in the 1980s during his first administration—was confident that his “60- day” and “30-day” rules would be supported and expeditiously executed by the Bowser administration.
“We must accomplish these goals, and I know we have the backing of the mayor, who I met with personally, and she assured me that she will make it the subject matter of her next cabinet meeting and the next council breakfast,” Orange confidently stated in July.
But that was over two months ago. As of Sept. 11, sources at the DSLBD reported that most agencies were way behind on not only the submission of their “expendable budgets” but were also nowhere near executing their “allocation letters.”
The agencies were evidently given a pass with the classic government excuse that a new IT system was being implemented that they just hadn’t come up to speed with.
This reporter suspects that, given both the long Labor Day weekend and the heat that the mayor has been taking for DC’s public safety crisis—including the city’s record number of homicides and the “no confidence” vote for MPD Chief Kathy Lanier taken by the Fraternal Order of Police (FOP)—these major distractions have given agency heads plenty of cover to put this once important matter on the back burner.
Thus, the priority that Councilman Orange thought the mayor was going to give to this key issue 60 days ago has been undermined by the reality of more pressing issues, making those 60- and 30-day rules a moot point.