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External Disparity Study Provides Recommendations for Improvement

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Miranda Kortan: (216) 698-2546; mkortan@cuyahogacounty.us 

External Study Provides Recommendations for Improvement

- Cuyahoga County released today the findings from a disparity study which revealed that there is a disparity between the number of available Minority and Women Business Enterprises (MBE/WBEs) and the number of those firms that have been awarded contracts from the County. Cuyahoga County Executive Armond Budish will submit the findings from the study to two equity commissions for review and recommendations.

In 2014, the County conducted a disparity study to determine whether discrimination existed in awarding contracts to minority and women owned businesses. That disparity study revealed “that long-standing discrimination did exist.”

In response to the findings from the study, the County took measures to address the disparities and “adopted a remedial program that went as far as could be reasonably supported by the law.” The study further found that “despite good efforts by the County, race and gender-neutral remediation efforts had not worked.”

“The law limited what we could do, so we did everything we could, but it wasn’t enough. This latest study shows that there are disparities and we now have the ability to do more. The study provides the support we need to ‘institute a more robust race and gender-conscious program,’” said County Executive Armond Budish.

In 2016, the County set aspirational goals for minority and women owned businesses and required good faith efforts to reach those goals. Additionally, performance bonds for smaller jobs under $250,000 were waived, and the County Small Business Enterprise (SBE) set aside program for qualified small businesses was implemented. The County SBE set aside program allows for reserving some bids, RFPs, and RFQs solely for SBEs.

This year, the County again conducted a disparity study. And this study shows that, despite good efforts by the County, race and gender-neutral programs are not sufficient to remedy disparities.

The disparity study looked at Cuyahoga County’s purchasing in the major procurement categories of Construction, Architecture & Engineering (A&E), Professional Services, Other Services, and Goods & Supplies for the period from January 1, 2014 through December 31, 2018.

Disparity Study team members calculated the percentage of available, qualified Minority and Women Business Enterprises (MWBE) willing and able to provide goods or services to the County in each major procurement category and compared that to the percentage of dollars awarded to such firms by the County to determine whether a significant disparity exists.

The study found that Cuyahoga County spent a total of $1,114,965,288 in prime spending in the major procurement categories during the study period and $51,519,807 of this amount, or 4.62 percent of this amount was spent with MWBE firms as prime contractors. White Female owned firms accounted for 4.03 percent of the total MWBE awards while MBEs were .59 percent of the awards.

“We are turning this study over to the two equity commissions and asking them to review it and to provide us with their recommendations so that we can remedy these disparities,” said County Executive Armond Budish. “Both commissions are required to submit reports to County Council and to the community in the coming months. I look forward to their recommendations.”

Read the full 2020 Disparity Study Report.