A study conducted by the City of Dallas's Office of Business Diversity and a consulting group found a statistically significant disparity between the percentages of available, qualified minority and woman-owned business enterprise firms and the dollars paid to those firms in the city’s procurement and contracting.
In a Dallas City Council briefing Wednesday morning, the final report of the Availability & Disparity study were presented to city council members. The study first formally began in November 2018 and was led by MGT Consulting Group.
According to the city, the findings of the study backed up the efforts to remove barriers for minority and women-owned businesses, including a business inclusion program.
"This study is pivotal to increasing opportunities for minority and women-owned businesses," said City Manager, T.C. Broadnax in a press release. "Addressing disparities and meeting needs for diverse prime and subcontractors helps increase fair and equitable opportunities for our community."
The study reviewed data starting from October 2014 and ending in September 2018 for five categories: construction, architecture & engineering, professional services, good & supplies and other services.
In its final findings, there was a statistically significant disparity in all five categories for women-owned businesses and four out of five categories for minority-owned businesses.
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One of the largest gaps was in the Professional Services category, where the study said of all qualified candidates, half were minority and women-based business firms, but that those businesses only received 30.74% of the amount the city had paid to all professional service firms.
MGT's findings did, however, commend the city of Dallas for meeting several goals, including a subcontractor utilization payment module, and recommended the continuation of the city's Business Inclusion program based upon the numbers in the study.
The study also proposed new goals for addressing those disparities to be set in place starting on Oct. 1. The current goals were created in 1994 and are set to expire on Sept. 30.
After Tuesday's briefing on Aug. 5, the report is again scheduled for the City Council on the Sept. 23 agenda.
"We are excited to set a new benchmark and raise the bar from here," said Zarin Gracey, Director of the Office of Business Diversity. "In addition to increased M/WBE goals, this gives an opportunity to develop programs that not only build capacity but increase competition as well."
Other recommendations from the study included performing regular site visits, making changes to the current evaluation criteria and prompt payment enforcement.