For the first time in Howard County history, a disparity study will identify opportunity gaps in the County’s procurement process.
From the County’s Procurement Office, Howard County Executive Calvin Ball launched the first ever Howard County disparity study to identify any opportunity gaps in the County’s procurement process with minority-owned, woman-owned and disabled-owned local businesses. The disparity study will examine the County’s efforts to encourage participation of minority-owned, woman-owned and disabled-owned businesses by assessing contracting practices and business assistance programs currently in place.
A press release explains the role of disparity studies and its process:
A disparity study examines whether there are differences between the percentage of dollars that minority, woman-owned and disabled-owned businesses received in contracts during a specific time period, and the percentage of dollars that these businesses would be expected to receive based on their availability to perform those contracts. Comparing the utilization and availability of such businesses is referred to as a disparity analysis.
The Howard County disparity study will be completed by MGT Consulting, a national public sector management consulting and technology services firm known to have conducted more unchallenged disparity studies than any other firm in the country. MGT will provide recommendations to the County to improve equity among contracting and purchasing processes. The study is expected to take 18-24 months to complete.
Attached to the study is $400,000 in funding to launch and complete the undertaking. Funding to conduct the disparity study was announced in the County Executive’s FY24 Operating Budget, presented to the County Council earlier this month.
At the May 1 announcement event, County Executive Ball stated:
Today, we’re taking another major step forward with an investment of more than $400,000 for the development of Howard County’s first ever disparity study. The disparity study is an important tool that will help identify any gaps in our current contracting practices and business assistance programs. It will help us evaluate the County’s efforts to encourage the participation of minority, woman-owned, and disabled-owned businesses by assessing the current contracting practices and business assistance programs in place.
Howard County Council Chair Opel Jones also commented on the historic initiative:
It was a pleasure joining County Executive Ball highlighting the County’s first Disparity Study. During the height of the pandemic, our small, minority, and women-owned businesses kept the county afloat by providing outstanding services and goods. I am very intrigued and excited to review the data the Disparity Study will provide as Howard County continues to support local businesses.