The Corner

Gov. Paterson Proposes Expansion of Procurement Preferences

He has introduced legislation today that would significantly expand the use of preferences based on race, ethnicity, and sex in New York’s contracting programs. But there is no justification — except, of course, the ugliest of political spoils — for race, ethnicity, and sex to be considered at all in deciding who gets awarded a contract.

It’s fine to make sure contracting programs are open to all, that bidding opportunities are widely publicized beforehand, and that no one gets discriminated against because of skin color, national origin, or sex. But that means no preferences because of skin color, etc. either — whether it’s labeled a “set-aside,” a “quota,” or a “goal,” since they all end up amounting to the same thing. Such discrimination is unfair and divisive; it costs the taxpayers money to award a contract to someone other than the lowest bidder; and it’s almost always illegal — indeed, unconstitutional — to boot. The only bright side is that those who insist on engaging in such discrimination will be sued, and — especially at the state and local levels — they almost invariably lose.

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