MANHATTAN — Firms owned by minorities and women received only 5.3 percent of the $13.8 billion the city handed out in contracts during the last fiscal year, according to a report released Wednesday from Comptroller Scott Stringer's office, which gave the administration a D+ for its efforts.
According to the report, those companies received only $725 million of the city's $13.8 billion in contracts.
And when it came to firms owned by women and African-Americans, city spending remained at the F-level, said Stringer.
"For a city as diverse as New York, 5 percent spend with [minority- and women-owned] business is unacceptably low. We must give companies that are owned by African-Americans, Hispanics, Asians and women a chance to compete for their fair share of the city's $14 billion in spending," Stringer said at his lower Manhattan offices.
That figure is actually an increase from the 3.9 percent of contracts minority and women-owned firms received in the 2014 fiscal year — pushing the city's overall grade up from a D.
Stringer said the city can and must "redouble" its efforts to diversify its spending on everything from office supplies to legal contracts.
Only 20 percent of the 4,100 minority and women-owned firms certified to receive city contracts did so during the last fiscal year. That means less than 2 percent of the 46,000 venders who do business with the city are minority or women-owned.
Stringer called the figure "pretty unbelievable" and "unacceptable."
While the Comptroller said the report was not political, he did seemingly criticize Mayor Bill de Blasio who has made income inequality the focus of his administration.
"We have got to ensure as we talk about the rhetoric of income inequality, as we talk about the broad strokes of what our aspirations are for this city, we've got to do the detailed analysis and transparent work that will allow all of our small business to have an equal shot at growing," Stringer said.
Of the 31 agencies examined, only one, the Department of of Housing and Preservation and Development, received an A.
Fourteen agencies received D's and 13 got C's, including Stringer's office, which he said he graded out of a sense of fairness. Stringer said his own office can do better and that he's aiming for a B in next year's report.
Three agencies, including the Department of Small Business Services, the Department of Environmental Protection and the Department of Sanitation, received F's.
Stringer said there were small bits of good news. The Landmarks Preservation Commission received a B for the second year in a row and city spending with Asian-owned firms increased to a C this year from a D.
He also praised the city's recent calculations that it has awarded $1.6 billion in contracts to minority and women-owned firms in the 2015 fiscal year. The city has set a goal of awarding $16 billion in contracts to minority and women-owned firms over the next decade.
Stringer said those awards should yield good results but that he was only interested in actual spending because minority firms who are often awarded subcontracts often don't receive that funding.
"We don't grade on aspirational goals. We grade on actual spending," said Stringer.
City Hall officials disagreed.
They said Stringer's data is partly based on contracts awarded in previous years by previous administrations. Their own measurement allows for a fair evaluation of "current leadership," said Mayor Bill de Blasio spokeswoman Ishanee Parikh.
"These aren’t aspirational numbers, they are actual contracts the city has signed, sealed and delivered," said Parikh.
The city decided to include every city agency, not just mayoral agencies, in its minority contracting goals. Parikh said the city is also pushing legislation in Albany that would allow the city to double the amount of discretionary contracts it can award to minority and women-owned firms.
Stringer said his focus will remain on actual spending.
"We've got the power to give these firms contracts so they can grow, hire more from local communities and spread economic opportunity to every part of this city," said Stringer.