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City of Austin disparity study released


TX News - Published Jul 26, 2022

The City of Austin has completed a disparity study that was commissioned in 2020, and has released the results and recommendations to the public. The study made a variety of findings, with mixed successes and failures for the City's Small & Minority Business Resources Department and the programs it oversees.

The period covered by the study was the years 2013 through 2018 and examined over 1,000 contracts. During that period, the City spent approximately 16.3 percent of its total contract dollars with MWBEs. As measured against an availability rate of 14.4 percent, this suggests a disparity ratio of 112.7 percent, meaning MWBEs were utilized by the city at rates slightly higher than their availability would predict. However, the study cautioned that this success rate represents a disproportionate usage of MWBEs for only a few NAICS codes, meaning that MWBEs may still be underutilized outside of those NAICS codes, owing to the concentration of MWBE utilization within a few specific industries. The study additionally found, through general market analysis, large disparities in total sales between MWBE and non-MWBE firms.

The study accordingly recommended that the City of Austin augment its race- and gender-neutral measures by such means as: developing an annual procurement forecast; centralizing data reporting; increasing interdepartmental communication and developing further virtual training tools for City departments; and conducting various means of extended outreach. The study also recommended that the City continue to use its current narrowly-tailored race- and gender-conscious contract measures, and also adopt a few additional measures, such as instituting an MWBE mentor-protege program, and implementing a comprehensive support services program for MWBEs.

Find the disparity study and its recommendations in separate documents at https://www.austintexas.gov/city-austin-disparity-study-2020.