Auditors find racial disparities in King County contracts – Seattle, Washington

Seattle, Washington 2021-06-11 08:30:00 –

Auditors have identified significant racial and gender disparities in the way King County contracts with private companies.

King County had disproportionate contracts with white-owned SMEs and inadequate contracts with black-owned SMEs and Latin / Hispanic-owned SMEs.

After state law banned race-based incentives in contracts in 1998, the county launched a small business-focused, racially-neutral initiative, the Small Contractor and Supplier Program.

As of August 2020, there are more than 1,800 companies that qualify as small contractors or suppliers. The qualification is that the owner’s net worth must not exceed $ 1.32 million and the business income and staff size must not exceed 50% of federal standards.

According to audits, black and Latino / Hispanic companies accounted for 12% and 6% of small contractors and suppliers, respectively, but only 7% and 3% of county contracts were awarded. It was.

In contrast, white companies make up 65% of small contractors, but were awarded 75% of county-wide contracts.

The auditor identified this disparity as a “significant statistical difference.”

In addition, from the summer of 2015 to the summer of 2020, black, indigenous, and colored companies won 25% of 86 contract bids, and white companies won 38% of 167 contract bids. ..

In the same time frame, black-owned companies were given only 17% of 33 contract bids, while all other BIPOC companies bid at much higher rates, despite the smaller number of bids. Won.

In 2019, King County won a $ 2.1 billion contract. King County’s strategic equity goals include expanding contract opportunities for minorities and women-owned businesses. Washington state law prohibits incentives in contracts, but government agencies can set voluntary goals for contracting with minority and women-owned businesses.

According to audits, the Attorney General of the State interprets state law to allow race- and gender-aware contracting measures unless it favors a qualified contractor over a qualified contractor.

County agencies have worked to increase engagement with minority and women-owned businesses, but audits show that the county is not conducting inequality studies that could lead to more targeted efforts. ..

Auditors recommended that the county “clarify roles and responsibilities to increase opportunities.” [minority and women-owned businesses]Create concrete and measurable goals for strategic equity goals, reduce barriers to contracts, increase access to resources, and empower staff to implement equity promotion contracts throughout the county. ”

The auditor also said he believed that without a mechanism or governing body to do so, there would be no way to hold the goal of equity accountable.

Auditors find racial disparities in King County contracts Source link Auditors find racial disparities in King County contracts

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