Minority Set aside Programs – Term Paper


Minority set-aside programs are the proceeds of Affirmative Action Act which are meant to ensure sanity in resource distribution to the public across all races and ethnic groups. These programs are meant to ensure that in the course of awarding contracts to its local businesses, state governments do not discriminate against those businesses or organizations largely composed of blacks. It is a legal requirement through this policy for states to ensure that a given percentage of the states’ contracts are awarded to such minority organizations irrespective of how well they are positioned to win the bid. The question as to whether this public policy issue is informed by rational thinking or not is subject to further analysis and inquiry.

The United States has a long history of historical racial injustices that it has struggled through decades to solve. The civil rights movements of the 1960s and 1970s brought forth tremendous changes upon which some of the current policies are based. Minority Stet-aside programs are a good example of these policies which are aimed at addressing the issues of the past through policy actions. The government of the day is looking to addresses the grievances expressed by the racial minorities in the United States in the famous Civil Rights Movements of the 1960s-1970s. Through affirmative action, the government has designed many policies among which is this one under review in this paper for the rationality informing its formulation and implementation. The policy which is meant to ensure non-discrimination in the distribution of public resources could prove irrational in its very approach and thus ineffective and inefficient in meeting its very goals.

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The Contradiction and Paradox

Minority Set-aside Programs are solely meant to ensure that in the efforts to distribute government resources, racial minorities are not sidelined and that they too get an equal share of the cake. In order to achieve this, this policy requires that 10% of state contracts are awarded to those organizations owned by racial minorities. This should be done irrespective of the positioning of these organizations or them not being the lowest bid. Thus, in practice, the policy is solely meant to ensure that while distributing resources, racial minorities get a “fair” share too. However, based on the approaches in awarding contracts to the racial minority organizations and the underlying issue behind the enactment of this policy, it is apparent that the policy fails the litmus test of cost-benefit calculus (Chemsons ; McBeth, 2015; Stone, 2002). The failure of the program can be understood from two perspectives: first, this is a public policy that other than being used to stamp out discrimination of blacks in resource distribution, its advances are oriented toward safeguarding advances of 1960-1970 Civil Rights Movements and thus puts the country in perpetual antagonism for racial superiority; second, the programs are not any effective in reducing the gap between the rich and the poor along racial lines.

To begin, racial discrimination is a historical issue but not a historical past of America as it is evident in various avenues (Brady ; Kessler, 2009). Waking up to these realities, the governments through from the times of Reagan as president through to President Bush and now Mr. Obama, Affirmative Action has been the tool to reinstate a sane nation that does not perpetuate racial discrimination any manner whatsoever. But as opposed to what others may think, Minority Set-aside Programs have not been an effective way to ensure proper distribution of resources to the public especially to racial minorities. The very way in which this is done is what makes it ineffective in meeting the need for equality. When resources are put in the hands of racial minorities without further considerations other than the racial composition of the organization, problems are bound to arise. For instance, the policy requires that 10% of the state contracts be awarded to those organizations largely constituted by blacks irrespective of other factors considered before awarding contracts (Kravitz, Bludau ; Klineberg, 2008). In essence, the policy is allowing an award of contracts to firms that may not even be in a position to accomplish the requirements of such a contract. When a contract cannot be pursued to its logical conclusion, it emerges that the resources allocated for such a contract have not been used effectively to meet the goals of the society. There have been and still going to be numerous such cases if the position on contracts allocation is not reviewed. It may thus be the case that some states become hesitant in meeting this policy requirements because of the inherent weakness in ensuring sanity in terms of use of resources owned by states.

Apart from possibilities of ineffective use of resources due to gaps in capacity for the tasks required to accomplish tasks assigned, there is also the issue of gender awareness in a time of awarding contracts. As is the case right now, men are in overwhelming numbers to women in various minority organizations, and this may little be taken into consideration. Yet it is clear that women in America are affected minority group that too deserves consideration in executing the policy mandates. However, the policy does provide that contracts be awarded to organizations owned by racial minorities and this has little to do with consideration of the composition of these organizations’ staff. It emerges, therefore, that the policy fails in meeting its course of justice by addressing the plight of all minority groups.

The other contentious issue that this program is aimed at is solving racial discrimination and historical injustices along this line. It is meant to give blacks in America equal opportunities as whites. However, by the mere fact that it is somewhat meant to raise the status of the blacks and bring uniformity while somewhat disregarding other constitutional requirements such as Equal Rights Protection, there is bound to be a rejection of the policy by others (Kravjtz, Bludau & Klinerberg, 2008). More specifically, the whites feel they are not fairly treated as the policy has nothing to offer them and instead, is enriching the blacks. Blacks on the other side feel this is what they need to catch up with their historical oppressors, so that in the end, these two groups find themselves in the same antagonism as they were way back in the 90s. The question that immediately comes to mind is whether the policy is doing any good in addressing historical injustices or is opening more avenue for fresh battles of rights between these two racial groups.