State commissions firm to conduct disparity study in procurement
BBC Research and Consulting will study opportunities for women- and minority-owned businesses.
The state will commission a Denver-based firm to conduct the first disparity study on procurement opportunities for women- and minority-owned businesses since 2011, Gov. Ralph Northam announced Thursday. The report is expected to be completed in December.
The Department of Small Business and Supplier Diversity (SBSD) selected market research company BBC Research and Consulting to conduct the study, mandated by Executive Order 35 issued in July 2019, which directs state agencies and institutions to use at least 42% of their discretionary spending on contracts to small-, women- and minority-owned (SWaM) businesses. The study is subject to funding by the General Assembly.
The 2011 report found that only 2.82% of total state contracts were awarded to women- and minority-owned businesses.
“Virginia must work to maximize participation of a diverse group of vendors in state contractual work,” Northam said in the executive order. “Virginia has a long history of racial inequality and disenfranchisement of minority communities. We have made some progress in the last six decades since the civil rights movement began, but not enough.”
After the order was issued, SBSD created a panel of state agencies including the Department of General Services, the Virginia Department of Transportation, the Virginia Information Technologies Agency and James Madison University to draft a request for proposals (RFP) and to evaluate any that were received by last December.
“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 in a statement. “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.”
BBC has committed to engaging three Virginia firms: TMI Consulting Inc. in Richmond, Exstare Federal Services Group LLC in Alexandria and The Miles Agency in Virginia Beach, three SWaM-certified companies. The study will be directed by BBC Research Managing Director Sameer Bawa, who earned his Ph.D. in psychology from the University of Virginia.
“With this announcement, the commonwealth of Virginia is another step closer to becoming a national exemplar for diversity, equity and inclusion,” state Chief Diversity, Equity and Inclusion Officer Janice Underwood said in a statement. “In collaboration with SBSD, we are doing the work for Virginia’s women- and minority-owned businesses.”
BBC Consulting was founded in 1970 and is part of the research division at the University of Denver that specializes in local economic research. The firm has conducted more than 100 disparity studies.