D.C. Disparity Study Analyzes $8b in Contracts

It looked at 88 District agencies and surveyed over 1,000 businesses.

Source : Contractor News

May 15, 2023

Author : Patty Allen

The District of Columbia has published a disparity study on the state of public procurement in the country's capital. It has focused on potential disparities for minority- and woman-owned business enterprises (M/WBEs) in terms of utilization versus availability in District contracting. 

The  research was carried out by BBC-Pantera-Tiber to determine whether people of color (POC)- and woman-owned businesses encounter any obstacles in the District of Columbia Government's (DC Government's), Events DC's (DC Events'), and the District of Columbia University's (UDC's) operations. In the disparity study, they looked at whether there were any differences or disparities between: The percentage of contract and procurement dollars each organization awarded to POC- and woman-owned businesses during the study period (i.e., utilization or participation); The percentage of contract and procurement dollars one might anticipate each organization to award to POC- and woman-owned businesses.

The study analyzed nearly $8 billion of contracts from 88 District agencies, surveyed over 1,000 businesses, and engaged with stakeholders. The results showed that contracting can make an even greater impact on redressing harms and discrimination, and opening doors to opportunity. The team worked with a host of District agencies to collect and verify contract data and review key policies and procedures. 

The Government of the District of Columbia Disparity Study showed that the District has substantial disparities in contracting with POC- and woman-owned firms. An interagency working group will assess and implement improvements to contracting processes to create better opportunities for POC- and woman-owned firms. The next phase of work will harness the data and move the District forward towards a more equitable and resilient future.

The study, which covered the fiscal years 2016 through 2020, discovered that although MWBEs received 37 percent of the dollar value of all contracts during the study period, this utilization rate still falls short of the region's MWBE availability, which was estimated to be 41.4 percent. Despite being relatively high in terms of national standards. The 37 percent usage rate also reflects the fact that there are only a handful of MWBEs overall (seven MWBEs, to be exact) received contracts with extraordinarily high dollar values, which makes them statistical outliers in the experience of MWBEs in DC.

In order to address any significant disparities between the availability and participation of people of color and woman-owned businesses in their work, the DC Government, Events DC, and UDC will use the disparity study's findings to better understand the outcomes for POC and woman-owned businesses in their contracting and procurement processes. In particular, the data from the disparity study can be used by the DC Government, 

If the DC Government, Events DC, or UDC decide that it is appropriate to use race- and gender-conscious measures to address substantial disparities (for example, awarding contracts and procurements with the use of POC- and woman-owned business participation goals), then they can rely on this information.

Category : Minority Business Enterprises Minority Women Business Enterprises Women Business Enterprises Disparity Studies Local Government

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