The New York state Chief Information Officer/Office of Technology (CIO/OFT) exceeded its goal, ahead of schedule, to increase the number of minority and women’s business enterprises (MWBE) participating in state technology procurements to 20 percent by the end of 2010, the office announced at the Tech Sector MWBE Forum in Albany on Tuesday, Nov. 16.

The CIO/OFT, which according to the agency is one of the largest buyers of IT products and services in New York state government, has been working with the corporate technology sector and state agencies to increase MWBE’s participation level in technology procurements. In 2007, the CIO/OFT set an aggressive goal to reach a 20 percent MWBE participation level by the end of 2010, starting from less than 1 percent.

“I am extremely pleased we met and exceeded our challenging goal. Promoting supplier diversity in state technology contracts has been a top priority of the governor’s administration and CIO/OFT,” said Melodie Mayberry-Stewart, the state’s CIO and OFT director, in a press release. “For the past four years, CIO/OFT has worked diligently to open doors for more MWBE firms to compete for state business.”

Currently New York state has one of the largest MWBE databases in the nation, with nearly 7,000 certified minority- and women-owned businesses. The certification is designed to help MWBE firms gain an introduction to large companies interested in doing business with them. The technology has enabled the state’s Division of Minority and Women-Owned Business Development (DMWBE) to reduce the certification process from 24 months in 2007 to three months in 2010.

A May 2010 study conducted by New York’s Empire State Development agency found evidence of business discrimination against MWBEs in New York’s private-sector market. The findings, based on mail surveys and in-depth interviews, support the state’s initiatives aimed at creating more business opportunities for the MWBE community, the office stated in a press release.

“Through our collaboration, we have proven that the state can deploy technology in a way that improves the quality of government services at competitive prices and do it while creating opportunities for qualified MWBEs,” said Michael Jones-Bey, executive director of the DMWBE. “To see the utilization of MWBEs on technology procurements go from 1 percent to over 20 percent shows that you can achieve success even with limited resources when you have a strong leader at the executive level and you get buy-in from the private sector.”

The MWBE forum this week in Albany was co-hosted with the DMWBE and discussed ways the state has tried to increase involvement. For example, a new website — www.nylovesmwbe.ny.gov — was recently launched to help companies become certified MWBEs.

Brian Scott, CIO of the state’s Department of Health, also commented, “We must continue to afford an equal opportunity for minority- and women-owned businesses to participate in New York’s purchasing and procurement. Successful events such as the Jumpstart events and MWBE forums, like the one hosted today by CIO/OFT and DMWBD, are valuable resources and have enabled [the Health Department] to add more than 240 MWBE firms to our bidder’s listing.”