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The City of Philadelphia is getting started on a $700 million program called Rebuild, meant to revitalize city parks, libraries, playgrounds, etc. Philadelphia Mayor Jim Kenney is considering contracting with a nonprofit to administer that program. Philadelphia Councilwoman Maria D. Quiñones Sánchez writes in the Philadelphia Inquirer that it’s a mistake to outsource such a large program to one entity.

Instead, Sánchez writes, the city needs to overhaul its procurement system, to ensure tax dollars are properly spent. Sánchez argues:

Instead of using our investments to build communities, we practice business as usual and maintain the status quo. The vast majority of the work goes to the few big, savvy contractors who can navigate the process, and small businesses are largely shut out. We need to make major changes to bring fairness and clarity to this process.

The councilwoman says the city government needs to prioritize project management, to ensure any of the large projects considered for the money operate on time. She also wants to see more small businesses as contractors, and to develop greater diversity in the building trades. It’s not too often that procurement is discussed as an economic engine, but that’s exactly what Sánchez sees:

Comprehensive reform of our procurement system is an ambitious undertaking, but the time is now for bold action. We are fortunate to have in Mayor Kenney a leader with the political will – and a very willing partner in Council – to finally get this done. The voters have entrusted us to manage our government and use resources to help spur economic growth and create jobs. Investing in public works as job-creation strategy has a proud history in our country and, if we do this right, Rebuild and our capital projects could be a transformative jobs program for Philadelphia.

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