Disparity Study 2010

Disparity Study Information

The purpose of this site is to provide vital information and updates regarding the City of Memphis' Disparity Study ("Study"). This site will contain pertinent information regarding progress related to current initiatives, any news regarding the Study and its related recommendation implementation. The 1994 Study, 2010 Study and the Executive Summary are all available for your review.

What is a Disparity Study?

The purpose of a disparity study is to determine if the City of Memphis still has a compelling interest in continuing the Minority and Women Business Enterprise ("MWBE") Program. A disparity study is a fact-based technique used to establish whether or not underutilization of minorities and women exists in the purchasing practices of an entity. This fact based approach must be developed in order to establish the legal validity of any minority or woman owned business program.

In 1989, the Supreme Court ruling in the case of City of Richmond v. J.A. Croson resulted in new standards on how local governmental entities may increase the participation of Minority and Woman owned businesses through the use of "programs". The ruling required the employment of a fact based approach to determine whether or not actual underutilization of qualified firms ready, willing and able to contract with a governmental entity has occurred. Disparity studies are generally that fact-based approach. Disparity studies look at the percentage of minority and woman owned businesses in the relevant market that are qualified to do work and compares that to the percentage of contract dollars awarded to the same kinds of businesses.

Disparity Study History

The City adopted its current MWBE program in 1996 as a result of the findings in the 1994 Dis¬parity Study, conducted by D.J. Miller & Associates. The Memphis City Council adopted two primary findings to support establishment of the MWBE Program under the Memphis City Code §2-325: first, that construction, professional services and supply firms owned by MWBEs in the Memphis MSA were disproportionately underutilized in City of Memphis contracts and in the Memphis private marketplace; and secondly, that the City of Memphis had been a direct and passive participant in the system of dis-crimination present in the private marketplace. As such, the City Council found that the City had a com¬pelling interest in remedying the present and past effects of discrimination against African American and women business owners. Additionally, the City Council stated in the ordinance that its affirmative duty to remedy the effects of the past and present discrimination also extended to the development of initiatives which encouraged the development of local small businesses. During November 2007, the City contracted with Griffin & Strong, P.C. ("GSPC") to conduct a comprehensive Study, which included all City depart¬ments except Memphis Light, Gas & Water. The purpose of the disparity study is to determine if the City of Memphis still has a compelling interest in continuing the MWBE Program for the City.

The study is designed to determine whether existing City efforts have eliminated active and passive discrimination; to analyze City procurement trends and practices for the five (5) year period beginning July 1, 2002 and ending June 30, 2007 ("Study Period"); and to evaluate various options for future program development. The study also addresses and recommends solutions for the concerns expressed by the U.S. Supreme Court in City of Richmond v. J.A. Croson, 488 U.S. 469 with regard to procurement programs for Minority and Woman owned firms. Governmental entities, such as the City, have authorized disparity studies in response to City of Richmond v. J.A. Croson Co. and the cases which followed, to determine whether there has been a compelling interest for remedial procurement programs, based upon ethnicity, race, and gender.

For additional information, please feel free to contact us at 901.576.6210.

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