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Washington, DC releases disparity study into MWBE contracting
Published on 04/25/2023

The District of Columbia has released a disparity study that it commissioned on the state of public procurement by the District, in particular on potential disparities faced by minority- and woman-owned business enterprises (MWBEs) in terms of their utilization versus their availability in District contracting.

The study, which covered fiscal years 2016 through 2020, found that while MWBEs received 37 percent of the dollar value of all contracts during the study period, and that while this utilization rate is relatively high in national terms, this utilization rate still lags the availability of MWBEs in the area, which was calculated to be 41.4 percent. In addition, the 37 percent utilization figure reflects the fact that a relatively small number of MWBEs in absolute terms (seven MWBEs, to be precise) were awarded exceptionally high-dollar-value contracts, making those seven MWBEs statistical outliers in the experience of MWBEs in DC.

The recommendations made by the study to remedy these disparities include that DC should establish an overall utilization goal for MWBEs as well as setting more contract-specific MWBE utilization goals, instituting prompt payment provisions to make competition in the government marketplace easier for MWBEs, establishing a points system rewarding large primes for working with subcontractors they have not previously worked with, among other solutions.

In a statement attached to the disparity study, Mayor Muriel Bowser said that "while the District [...] does have higher than average contracting with POC- and women-owned firms, substantial disparities in contracting persist [...] we can and will do even better."

Read the study at https://dmped.dc.gov/sites/default/files/dc/sites/dmped/page_content/attachments/Government%20of%20the%20District%20of%20Columbia%20Disparity%20Study.pdf.

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