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Source : Contractor News
July 20, 2022
Author : Patty Allen
As part of the increasing emphasis on supplier diversity, a number of cities across the country are reviewing their procurement of goods and services. The Minority Business Development Agency (MBDA) was made permanent by the Department of Commerce in 2021, and its mandate was expanded to coordinate and partner with women and minority-owned business enterprises (MWBEs).
Colette Holt & Associates conducted disparity research in Austin,Texas, which took two years to complete after Austin’s City Council approved a resolution in early 2020. Austin’s women and minority business enterprise procurement program’s success was mainly positive but showed instances where MWBEs faced hardships.
The study looked at contract data for Austin from 2013 to 2018. Out of all the city contracts accessible, the researchers chose 1,069 at random and finally included 1,002 contracts in their analysis. These contracts are examples of agreements between the city and construction, architectural, and engineering businesses.
“Looking at the concrete data and having an outside consultant looking at your program (and) saying, this really works well – I think that was one of the big takeaways for me,” Edward Campos, the director of Austin’s Small and Minority Business Resources Department explained. He further added, “Certainly, that doesn’t mean we’re done with conquering all the disparities that exist.”
The disparity study concluded, “Although the city’s (minority-owned and women-owned business enterprise) program has been quite successful in creating opportunities for minority and woman firms, these benefits have not been spread evenly across all groups or subindustries. We find the data as a whole support the conclusion that minority and woman firms have not reached parity in all aspects of the city’s local contracting activities compared with (white male-owned business enterprises),”
The study also included researchers visiting the neighborhood and speaking with women and minority business owners about their unique difficulties. According to Campos, the researchers discovered that “access to money, access to bonding, access to insurance... all the issues that have plagued our minority and women-owned enterprises, regrettably, are still in play.”
The consultant made several important recommendations to address some of the alarming results. These suggestions will be presented to the general public, the MBE/WBE and Small Business Enterprise Procurement Program Advisory Committee, and the study’s findings to get more feedback. Later this year, Campos and his team will submit ideas for consideration by the City Council for program enhancement and approaches to lessen local business inequities.
Austin[s city council launched the first version of the present women and minority business enterprise procurement program to lessen prejudice and encourage equal access to contracting opportunities in 1987. The application has undergone numerous reviews and revisions since it was first developed. The city conducts a disparity study every five years to evaluate the program’s success.