The Director of the Washington State Office of Minority and Women’s Business Enterprises resigned Wednesday, the KING 5 Investigators have learned.
Cathy Canorro submitted a letter of resignation to Gov. Chris Gregoire a day after the third KING 5 investigative report into the small agency. (Read the letter.)
OMWBE is tasked with deciding which businesses should be certified to participate in the state’s minority contracting program.
OMWBE also evaluates minority contractors and removes those that are found to be cheating the system or that are too big to qualify.
The minority contracting program is federally mandated and is designed to help small, struggling businesses that have historically faced discrimination in winning contracts to work on large public transportation projects.
The KING 5 investigation has exposed fraud, waste, and abuse in the program.
Examples include OMWBE allowing a contractor to stay in the program even though its owner was found to be gaming the system. In another case, KING 5 found evidence that a woman-owned trucking company, making millions of dollars on government transportation projects, should never have been allowed into the program in the first place.
Cathy Canorro is an attorney who has worked at OMWBE for 21 years. In 2010, Gov. Gregoire appointed her to the position of agency director. Her last day with the agency will be June 1.
Read the previous installments of Susannah Frame's "Fraud on the Job" series: