Mayor Lightfoot unveils fair social services contracting policy

Today at the Readiness Summit, Mayor Lori Lightfoot announced the unveiling of the citywide Equitable Social Services Contracting Policy. This vision defines the goals by which the City will make its social services request for proposals and contracting processes more accessible to local and smaller organizations. As a first act to advance the framework’s vision, the mayor also announced three ongoing initiatives that will provide temporary cash flow relief and prompt payment to all organizations that contract with certain city departments.

“Equity must be at the heart of all City initiatives, especially those aimed at helping our communities recover and move their priorities forward,” said Mayor Lightfoot. “The unveiling of Chicago’s Fair Society contracting policy is an achievement that will redefine our social value around contracting processes, making them more accessible to smaller city-based organizations. This will no doubt contribute to our ongoing efforts to revitalize our local economies and benefit delegates and residents in need.

Understanding that our collective vision of a more equitable Chicago requires the participation of every member of civil society, the City of Chicago is committed to pursuing its delegated agency contracts to achieve better and more inclusive outcomes. The City of Chicago spends hundreds of millions of dollars each year providing social services. From youth services to interventions with victims of violence, these non-profit organizations are delegated the responsibility of carrying out important public services.

Traditionally, RFPs have been structured to award contracts based on a delivery strategy for the services requested within the framework, often without regard to the location of the vendor. The importance of ensuring that providers have a deep cultural understanding of the communities they serve and the ability to meet needs within the context of community culture is of increasing importance as we analyze the effectiveness of our process and our performance as an existing delegated agency. We have an opportunity to learn from these practices and advance them system-wide.

Through Chicago’s Fair Social Services Contract Policy, the city will create social value in our contracts to help make Chicago a more equitable and just city that distributes economic benefits to traditionally underrepresented communities today. and in the future. Specific high-level objectives include:

  • Reaching historically underrepresented organizations doing impactful work to ensure small nonprofits can successfully compete for contracts
  • Strengthen indigenous and people-led organizations representing the communities they serve
  • Increase resources in communities in need
  • Ensure cultural competency in organizations to serve the community in a way that responds to diversity in the procurement process
  • Be accountable for results by collecting key metrics to measure and ultimately advance the fair contracting framework

The City will develop a strategic plan to advance the broader set of initiatives by April 2022. The plan will review and identify any inequities embedded in City practices and policies related to the allocation of funds to service providers . It will also seek to remove barriers to create a more level playing field for equitable participation and inclusion in the City’s delegated agency procurement process.

Even before the plan is finalized, the mayor has already announced three initiatives underway to remove some of these barriers

  • Advance mobilization payments: Subject to the availability of funds, initial funding to eligible delegates to begin providing the services described in the selected delegate agency agreements.
  • Restructuring of the procurement process of delegated agencies: This work will take appropriate steps early in the procurement and grant life cycle to standardize equity contracting practices across all City departments and streamline contract execution workflow. The new process aims to expedite the upfront payment to all delegated organizations at the start of the grant term, incorporate the necessary mechanisms for requesting and disbursing advances, and avoiding waste to ensure that grant funding meets its intended purpose. goal.
  • Technical Assistance to Human Services Organizations with City Contracts: The city will provide a suite of technical assistance tools that will be available to support small community delegated organizations who are unfamiliar with the city’s requirements for procurement, timely vouchers, payment, record keeping and reports.

The Readiness Summit was launched on February 4 with the goal of educating nonprofits, community organizations and vendors in Chicago and Cook County about the American Rescue Plan Act (ARPA) and other opportunities financing economic recovery. The City of Chicago is committed to bringing more local and culturally representative organizations closer to these opportunities. We are working not only to help them become eligible for these funds, but also to make structural changes to our system that will keep them as our delegates long after ARPA is needed.

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