Dayton, NAACP announce equity audit

Gov. Mark Dayton and NAACP officials announced plans for an equity audit of state government. Tim Pugmire | MPR News

Gov. Mark Dayton and NAACP officials announced Thursday that they are seeking an independent audit of state government business practices related to racial equity.

The first-of-its kind audit is expected to take up to four months to complete. It will largely focus on minority hiring and contacts with minority-owned businesses.

Dayton said during a news conference that he will take responsibility for any “failings and deficiencies” found through the audit. He said he wants to improve opportunities for people of color and thinks the audit will help spur further action.

“I look forward to finding out where the deficiencies are so we can make those improvements, and have them in place so when I leave office in two-and-a-half years these changes are institutionalized within the practices of state government,” Dayton said. “This is not a one-administration kind of initiative. It’s something that really going to be embedded in the practices of state government.”

Dayton said Minnesota Department of Transportation contracts and subcontracts are one example of an area of “serious deficiency.” He said there has been recent progress with other state contracts, but there’s more work to do.

Minnesota NAACP President William Jordan said there is a “ferocious cry” in the state for “equity and racial justice.” Jordan called on state legislators to join the audit effort.

“In Minnesota, the human stories are singular but our destiny is shared,” Jordan said. “We rise and fall as one people, one state, and human unity must prevail. Human unity prevails when all citizens are free from discrimination.”