Disparity Study results released

Immediate next steps identified

From the office of Mayor Tom Barrett

The City of Milwaukee Emerging Business Enterprise Program recently released the results of its Disparity Study. The study was conducted to determine whether a disparity exists for minority and women-owned emerging business enterprises (EBEs) working on City of Milwaukee construction, professional services and goods & services contracts. A disparity exists when there are more available EBEs ready, willing and able to conduct work on City of Milwaukee contracts than are utilized. Availability and utilization data were analyzed to determine if EBEs received a fair and equitable share of the subcontracting dollars. The study included four years of procurement activity from January 2005 through December 2008 and determined in some areas a disparity does exist.

Given the results, the City of Milwaukee will now move forward and address the issues raised in the study. “We must begin working immediately to implement programmatic reforms in order to support women and minority-owned businesses that have historically been at a disadvantage,” said Rhonda Kelsey, director of Purchasing for the City of Milwaukee. “We have already been directed to take immediate action so we can begin to transform these challenges into opportunities.”

Some of the action items include purchasing compliance monitoring software in the fi rst quarter of 2011 to track subcontractor participation and payments in real-time. Also during the fi rst quarter, the Department of Administration will work with City departments to implement structural changes and improvements such as quarterly performance audits to ensure all departments are on track for maximum participation. Professional service contracts in all City departments will be closely monitored and reviewed by the EBE Office to ensure that small, minority and women-owned firms have equitable contracting opportunities.

The City of Milwaukee has had a race/gender neutral small business program for approximately two decades and the structure of the program was designed to assist minority and women owned firms that are at a disadvantage.

In 2007 the Emerging Business Enterprise (EBE) Program Evaluation Report revealed an underutilization of minority and women-owned firms in various city contracts. As a result of these findings, the Mayor directed the department to move forward with a disparity study.