Disparity Study Press Release Statement

(Sept. 26, 2022, Baltimore, Md.) The Baltimore City Minority and Women’s Business Opportunity Office (MWBOO) is thrilled to announce the release of the latest Disparity Study analyzing the utilization of minority and women-owned businesses in the City. The Study demonstrated the need for the Minority and Women’s Business Program to continue.

For background, Baltimore City Code Article 5, Subtitle 28 establishes and governs the Minority and Women’s Business Program overseen by the MWBOO. The legislative findings detail that past discrimination in the City’s contracting process by prime contractors against minority and women’s business enterprises has resulted in significant underutilization of minority and women’s business enterprises in contracts awarded by the City of Baltimore. By law, the City must provide a regular study of the disparity in utilization of minority contractors.

The last Disparity Study was completed in 2014. Baltimore City Code mandates that the Minority and Women’s Business Program be narrowly tailored to remedy ongoing effects of past discrimination, an objective that is advanced by: “(v) requiring regular review of the necessity for this subtitle; (vi) limiting those minority and women’s businesses that qualify for certification under this subtitle to those located in the Baltimore City Market Area; (vii) requiring regular review of the categories included in the definition of minority group members…” City Code Article 5, 28-3(a)(5)(v)-(vii). Furthermore, the Disparity Study is required to avoid the sunset provision within the City Code applicable to MWBOO. See City Code Article 5, 28-5 (“This subtitle automatically expires on May 30, 2023, unless the City Council, after causing an appropriate study to be undertaken…”).

The City retained MGT in June 2020 to conduct an availability and disparity study to determine if there are any disparities between the utilization of minority-owned business enterprises (MBE), women-owned business enterprises (WBE), veteran-owned business enterprises (VBE), disabled owned business enterprises (DOBE), and lesbian, gay, transgender, bisexual, queer-owned business enterprises (LGBTQ) compared to the availability of these firms in the City’s marketplace who are ready, willing, and able to perform work. MGT analyzed data for July 1, 2015 (Fiscal Year 2016) through June 30, 2019 (Fiscal Year 19) for Construction, Architecture and Engineering, Goods, and Other Services, including professional services. The Study analyzed whether a disparity exists between the number of available MBEs, WBEs, VBEs, DOBEs, and LGBTQs providing goods or services in the above business categories (availability) and the number who are contracting with the City as a prime contractor or subcontractor (utilization). The Report found that a persistent, pervasive, and statistically significant disparity remains that necessitates the need for the Minority and Women’s Business Program to continue.

The Disparity Study details a growth in overall City spending, specific growth in several contracting areas from the 2014 Report, the majority of spending is with local City businesses, and the positive steps that the City has undertaken to increase M/WBE participation and eliminate disparities. The Report is critical to the inclusive development of Baltimore City by providing an independent assessment of the City’s progress towards eliminating all disparities within the process to procure goods and/or services. The Report makes several recommendations that serve as a roadmap to ensure that we are eliminating any barriers to entry for M/WBEs. This independent analytical analysis provides the Citywide data view needed to assess the Minority and Women’s Business Program.

The City is committed, and MWBOO will be working diligently in partnership with City leadership and the agencies, to ensure that these recommendations are adopted and implemented. Mayor Scott is taking steps to continue to improve services to the M/WBE community by combining the Mayor’s Office of Minority and Women’s Business Development with MWBOO. This combined office will provide more developmental tools and resources to allow for additional availability and utilization of M/WBEs. We are working to grow a vast and diverse pool of businesses to partner with the City. Baltimore’s success is dependent upon our small, minority, and women-owned businesses! This Report reflects our progress thus far, but we are very optimistic about the future of Baltimore with a thriving M/WBE community.

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