Consultant Completes WSSC Disparity Study

Next steps include drafting policy and seeking public input

| News Release

OFFICE OF COMMUNICATIONS AND COMMUNITY RELATIONS

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

Laurel, Maryland – February 3, 2011: The Washington Suburban Sanitary Commission (WSSC) has received the results of a Disparity Study conducted by Mason Tillman Associates, Ltd., (MTA) on behalf of WSSC. The Study examined WSSC’s record in awarding contracts to women-owned and minority-owned prime contractors and subcontractors for fiscal years 2004 through 2009.

MTA’s analysis of WSSC data determined there is a statistically significant underutilization of women and minority-owned business enterprises in the awarding of WSSC prime contracts in the four broad contracting areas; Construction, Architecture and Engineering, Goods and Services and Professional Services. Regarding the subcontracts it analyzed, MTA determined that statistically-significant underutilization of specific racial-ethnic groups occurred in WSSC’s contracting areas except for Professional Services. WSSC staff is reviewing the data from the report and will draft an MBE Program for Commissioners to consider.

MTA recommended multiple remedies for WSSC’s consideration. These remedies included those that are race-and-gender-neutral, and those that are race-and-gender-conscious. These are the kinds of remedial actions that could possibly be included in a new long-term MBE Program.

A disparity study is required to provide the Commission with a factual predicate for a long-term MBE Program. The current interim MBE Program expires April 30, 2011.

WSSC General Manager/CEO Jerry N. Johnson said a study “is the foundation for creating a legally sufficient minority business enterprise program.” Johnson added that the Study was characterized by three core values: cooperation, transparency and accountability.

Towanda Livingston, director of the WSSC Small Local and Minority Business Enterprise (SLMBE) Office, said: “It’s important that WSSC fosters a business environment that is inclusive in purchasing practices, expands contract opportunities and cultivates the growth of small, local and minority businesses.” Improving Acquisition and SLMBE is one of the Commission’s core strategies.

The fact-finding study scrutinized bids, awards, invoices and payments to minority-owned businesses that bid for WSSC contracts over the six-year period. It also examined WSSC’s Minority Business Enterprise (MBE) practices and the business market in this region to determine if a statistical disparity exists in the awarding of contracts by WSSC to women-owned and minority firms and the availability of such firms in the marketplace.
MTA is a California-based consulting firm that has conducted more than 100 Disparity Studies nationwide for states, counties, school systems and cities.

WSSC is now taking written comments about the Study, which is on the WSSC 2010 Disparity Study website. Comments via email can be sent to wsscstudy@wsscwater.com. Written comments can be sent to WSSC SLMBE Office, Attention: Disparity Study Public Comments, 14501 Sweitzer Lane, Laurel, MD 20707.

A community meeting to discuss the Study and to update progress on development of the new proposed MBE Program will be held at 7 p.m., Wednesday, February 16, 2011, at WSSC headquarters, 14501 Sweitzer Lane, Laurel, MD 20707.

WSSC staff will use the study and public comment to develop an effective new MBE Program that is legally sufficient. The draft of the new program will be released to the public in mid-February.

Public hearings on a proposed new MBE Program will be:


Wednesday, February 23, 2011 – 7 p.m. to 9 p.m. in Prince George’s County County Administration Building,
14741 Governor Oden Bowie Drive
Upper Marlboro, MD 20772-3050

Thursday, February 24, 2011 – 7 p.m. to 9 p.m. in Montgomery County
Council Office Building, 100 Maryland Avenue
Rockville, MD 20850


We will accept written comment on the draft policy until March 7, 2011, at the same postal and email addresses as above.
To see the full study, go to www.wsscwater.com.

For 100 years, WSSC has proudly served the citizens of Prince George’s and Montgomery counties – providing drinking water that has always met strict Safe Drinking Water Act standards and protecting the environment through vital water resource recovery services. Our vision is to be THE world-class water utility, where excellent products and services are always on tap.

 

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