Study to look at state contracts for women-, minority-owned businesses


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A 2011 study found that only 2.82 percent of total state contracts were awarded to women- and minority-owned businesses.

Gov. Ralph Northam issued an executive order last summer directing state agencies and institutions to procure at least 42 percent of discretionary spending from certified small-, women-, and minority-owned (SWaM) businesses.

On Thursday, the Department of Small Business and Supplier Diversity announced that it has selected BBC Research and Consulting to conduct an updated study that will assess procurement opportunities in Virginia for women- and minority-owned businesses.

“Every Virginian should be able to participate in our thriving economy,” Northam said. “This disparity study will be an important tool in making sure that women- and minority-owned businesses have a fair shot when competing for state procurement contracts, which represent over $6 billion annually.”

“Selecting BBC to develop the Commonwealth’s disparity study is a significant step toward implementing the governor’s executive order,”  Secretary of Commerce and Trade Brian Ball said. “This study will provide vital information on whether the Commonwealth should develop new programs for women- and minority-owned businesses, and how such programs should be designed.”

After the governor issued his executive order, the Department of Small Business and Supplier Diversity assembled a panel of state agencies to draft a request for proposals and evaluate the proposals that were received.

The panel included the Department of General Services (DGS), the Virginia Department of Transportation, the Virginia Information Technologies Agency, and James Madison University.

The RFP was issued in October 2019, and proposals were received and scored by the panel in December.

The disparity study that BBC will conduct—which is subject to appropriation by the General Assembly—will specifically analyze whether women- and minority-owned businesses face disparate treatment in procurement and whether additional state programs to remedy such treatment are needed.

“One of the agency’s top priorities is developing a high-quality disparity study,” said Tracey Wiley, agency director for the Virginia Department of Small Business and Supplier Diversity. “This study will assist the Commonwealth in defining programmatic initiatives for women- and minority-owned businesses.”

“With this announcement, the Commonwealth of Virginia is another step closer to becoming a national exemplar for diversity, equity, and inclusion,” said Chief Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion Officer Dr. Janice Underwood. “In collaboration with SBSD, we are doing the work for Virginia’s women- and minority-owned businesses.”

BBC Research and Consulting was founded in 1970 as part of a research division at the University of Denver specializing in local economic research. The company has helped organizations implement effective women- and minority-owned business programs in a legally-defensible manner.

BBC has conducted more than 100 disparity studies nationwide and will conduct outreach to women- and minority-owned business owners across the Commonwealth as part of the study.

BBC is pursuing SWaM certification in Virginia, and the firm has committed to engaging three SWaM-certified Virginia firms in this study, representing 21.9 percent of the contract.

These firms are TMI Consulting (Richmond), Exstare Federal Services Group (Alexandria), and The Miles Agency (Virginia Beach). BBC will submit its final report in December.

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