Los Angeles City Council President Nury Martinez launched the new Equity, Performance Management and Innovation Division within the City Administrative Officer’s (CAO) office on January 12.
This division will be ensuring that equity is centered in all budgetary decisions made by the City of Los Angeles moving forward. Assistant CAO Malaika Billups, who previously served as the city’s chief diversity, equity and inclusion officer, will lead the new division.
“We need to establish a budgeting system in which equity is at the forefront and not an afterthought,” said Martinez. “This is long overdue and will provide us with much-needed insight as we work towards a Los Angeles that works for everyone. I am looking forward to working with Malaika and finding a way to make our city more accessible for all Angelenos.”
In Billups’ new role, she will focus on incorporating equity into the CAO’s processes and building a team that will look at all budget decisions through that lens. Prior to this position’s establishment, an equity consideration would only come from councilmembers, who requested this review for their legislation from the CAO office.
“The City Administrative Officer plays a vital role in the City, functioning as a key source of information and policy recommendations for our elected officials charged with ensuring an equitable future for City residents and employees,” said Billups. “I look forward to developing and recommending strategies to ensure equity is built into the City’s internal and external funding priorities.”
The new Division was established to ensure that the City is taking a more proactive and holistic approach to serving residents, managing resources, and investing in the community.
Martinez has long advocated that the City needed to do more to prioritize equity in the annual budget. For decades, lower income communities of color have historically been afterthoughts in the budgeting process–receiving less funding for public services and amenities that wealthy, affluent communities benefited from.
While the City spent over $425 million on infrastructure projects in the 2019-2020 fiscal year, an inequitable amount of funding went to these low income communities, leaving critical infrastructure needs unmet. In 2021, Martinez demanded that the City take a more unified and holistic approach to budgeting and planning for infrastructure improvements that would ensure equity across all neighborhoods.
Billups has had a long history of success and advocacy having been recognized by the Nation’s Best Advocates 40 under 40 list, an acknowledgement recognizing the top 40 attorneys under the age of 40 nationwide, and named one of Los Angeles’s Most Influential African Americans Under 40 by the Vanguard Awards.
In 2019, Billups was named the city’s chief diversity, equity and inclusion officer, where she oversaw the Office of Workplace Equity within the Personnel Department. She managed the City’s equity investigations, leading efforts to re-envision the City’s workplace equity policies and enforcement procedures. Billups also spearheaded citywide efforts to support a more diverse, build a more equitable, and foster a more inclusive working environment for the City’s workforce.
“The City’s elected leaders have made their commitment to equity crystal clear. How and where we spend the public’s money is critical to that commitment,” said City Administrative Officer Matt Szabo.
“As Assistant City Administrative Officer, Malaika Billups will lead the effort to institutionalize equity principles in City financial planning and incorporate equity metrics in our evaluation of City budgets.”