Disparity Study

At the February 6, 2020 Mayor and Board of Aldermen Public Meeting, the Board of Aldermen approved an agreement with Griffin & Strong, P.C. in the not-to-exceed amount of $238,000 for a Disparity Study. This study would enable the City to strengthen its policies related to Disadvantaged Business Enterprises (DBEs) as recommended by the DBE Review Panel.

Frequently Asked Questions

What is a Disparity Study? What is the purpose?
A Disparity Study determines whether a government entity has previously or is currently engaging in exclusionary practices in the solicitation and award of contracts to minority, and women‐owned, and disadvantaged business enterprises. A disparity study forms the factual basis required for race- or gender-based contracting programs.

Disparity studies are a product of the Supreme Court ruling in the City of Richmond v. JA Croson Company. In that case, the Court found the City of Richmond’s ‘set aside’ for minority-owned businesses was unconstitutional under the 14th amendment. In order to require its procured general contracts to subcontract a certain portion of work to minority-owned businesses, it has to pass a strict scrutiny standard test including 3 parts – a compelling governmental interest, narrowly tailored to achieve the goal and the least restrictive way to achieve the goal.

Why is the City doing a Disparity Study?
The City has expressed a strong desire to strengthen its policies relating to minority and women-owned business participation in City procurement. Current policies are vague. In order to develop policies that require minority and women-owned business participation, a disparity study must be completed. Similar studies have been completed by the State of Maryland, Baltimore City, and Montgomery County.

Can the City use studies already completed by the other jurisdictions?
No. To meet the strict scrutiny standard set forth by the Supreme Court, the City must perform its own study.

Why didn’t the City hire a local firm?
The City issued an RFP for these services and received five responses (one of which was from Maryland – but outside of The City of Frederick and Frederick County). After review, the Maryland-based company did not have the experience performing disparity studies and could not demonstrate the knowledge of the legal requirements.

Griffin & Strong, PC, the selected firm who is located in Atlanta, GA, is a national leader in conducting disparity studies. They have performed more than 150 studies over the last 25 years.

What is the study process?

  • Policy review – Do the current policies present a barrier to MWBE firms?
  • Utilization analysis – How and where are current procurement dollars being spent?
  • Availability analysis – What MWBE firms are ready, willing and able to complete the work the City procures?
  • Disparity analysis – Is there a disparity between utilization and availability?
  • Private sector analysis – Is utilization affected by other disparities in the market, including employment, self-employment and credit markets?
  • Community engagement and anecdotal evidence - Interviews, surveys, and focus groups to get the story data can’t provide
  • Findings and recommendations – based on the detailed review and evidence gathered. The recommendations will be informed by the unique findings of the study.