As Boston Mayor Marty Walsh awaits a full Senate vote to decide whether to become President Joe Biden’s Labor Secretary, the recent dust around his city contracts for women and minority-owned businesses illustrates how he can handle the issue at the federal level. It also shows the challenges Biden faces as he continues to assert his full government, with only 13 of the 23 positions held. Last week, Nira Tandin withdrew her candidacy to head the Office of Management and Budget due to previous controversial tweets. The case in Boston dates back to 2018, when the Walsh administration commissioned an outside consultant to analyze contract awarding practices in the city. Last month, Walsh released the results of the study, which showed that only 2.5% of $ 2.2 billion in city contracts and purchases were awarded to minority-owned companies. Women-owned firms performed slightly better, at 8.5% but both groups were underrepresented as a whole, because minority-owned firms accounted for 5.7% of the available firms and women-owned firms accounted for 11.2% in Boston. The study results prompted three community groups to file a federal complaint alleging discrimination in contracting practices in the city. “Every day a city fails to act, it perpetuates a public contracting system that excludes eligible minority business enterprises (MBEs) from equal opportunity,” the lawsuit states. New targets were set in response, and Walsh, a former union organizer, issued an executive order setting explicit targets for the city to award 10% of contracts and spending on purchases to minority-owned businesses and 15% for women-owned businesses, or 25% in total. Those percentages exceeded the recommendations in the study that suggested that the city give 16.9% of its dollars to these two groups combined. Walsh reportedly set the initial percentages in line with the study’s low recommendations, but later raised it to 25% after the lawsuit was filed, according to the Boston Business Journal. In a press release, the Walsh administration explained how it would achieve these goals by: Developing standardized procurement procedures for all city departments. Including specific targets in contracts. Track progress towards goals through reporting in the annual budget process. Establish a supplier diversity program to oversee implementation of the objectives. “We launched the first study on inequality in a generation because we needed an independent and objective analysis before we could set legal targets that would help us level the playing field for minority-owned companies and women,” Walsh said in a statement. “With the study now complete, we are looking forward to meaningful reforms and policy changes that will enhance opportunities for underrepresented companies.” At the same press conference, Walsh announced that he would allocate $ 2 million to the Supplier Diversity Program to provide technical assistance, training, and mentoring to minority-owned businesses and women. Walsh’s nomination for Minister of Labor was approved by the Senate Committee on February 11th by a vote of 18 to 4, and was sent to the Senate in its entirety. No date has been set for the full vote yet. With former President Donald J Trump’s second impeachment trial and a new COVID-19 relief package dominating the Senate schedule, approval according to the Christian Science Monitor, a number of Biden’s cabinet selections are on track to publish more slowly than any of the last four administrations.