A disparity study examines whether there are disparities between:
The comparison between the utilization of minority- and women-owned businesses on an agency’s contracts and the availability of those businesses to perform that work is referred to as a disparity analysis.
In addition to utilization, availability and disparity analyses, disparity studies examine quantitative and qualitative information about:
Although many cities and other local and state governments adopted minority and women business programs for public contracting in the 1970s and 1980s, the legal landscape for these programs changed in 1989. In that year, the U.S. Supreme Court established substantial limitations on the ability of state and local governments to have MBE programs or any other programs benefitting a group based on race. Legal restrictions also apply to gender-conscious programs.
Croson decision. The 1989 U.S. Supreme Court decision in City of Richmond v. J.A. Croson Company held there are only certain limited permissible reasons for a local government to have a race-conscious program, and set specific conditions for such programs:
These two requirements must both be satisfied to meet the U.S. Supreme Court’s strict scrutiny standard of review for race-conscious programs.
Disparity studies examine whether there is a disparity between the utilization and availability of minority- and women-owned firms in an agency’s contracting, which is key information in determining whether there is evidence that race or gender discrimination affects a city’s contracting. When the agency already has a race- and gender-conscious program in place, a disparity study examines outcomes for similar public institutions or within the local private sector marketplace to examine if there would be disparities but for that program. Because the U.S. Supreme Court held that a public agency could take action if it had become a passive participant in a system of racial exclusion practiced by elements of the local industry, comprehensive disparity studies examine such information as well.
There are a number of factors used to determine whether a program is narrowly tailored, including consideration of whether workable “race-neutral measures” are sufficient to remedy the identified discrimination.
Methodology. A disparity study develops the quantitative and qualitative information for a government body to consider the types of programs necessary to address the effects of any discrimination against minority- or women-owned firms.
Our methodology is based on relevant case law, including the recent Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals decision that favorably reviewed the study team’s methodology for measuring availability, analyzing disparity and collecting and analyzing qualitative information.
The Disparity Study is led by the eight participating state and local government entities. That group oversees the work being conducted by a team of consultants, led by Keen Independent Research, which has conducted numerous disparity studies nationwide.
Approximately 18 months. The study began in June 2016 and will be completed by late 2017. In fall 2017, the study team will prepare a draft report for public review and input.
There are a number of ways stakeholders can be involved. The research team will collect and analyze public input throughout the study. The final report will incorporate this input. To get involved:
Information collected as a part of the disparity study will help state and local entities design and operate programs to ensure a level playing field in their contracting activities. Among other information, the disparity study will provide:
The study will include state and local agency construction, professional services, goods and other services contracts awarded in last five years.
Yes. The draft report will be distributed to key groups and posted on this website for public comment. The final report will also be posted after the completion of the study.