Washington Suburban Sanitary Commission Kicks Off Disparity Study
MGT of America, Inc. to Evaluate Availability and Commission Utilization of Minority- and Women-Owned Business Enterprises
OFFICE OF COMMUNICATIONS AND COMMUNITY RELATIONS
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
LAUREL - May 19, 2015: The Washington Suburban Sanitary Commission (WSSC) General Manager Jerry N. Johnson announced the selection of MGT of America, Inc. (MGT), of Tallahassee, FL to conduct a new Disparity Study. The Study will determine whether a statistically significant disparity occurred during the Study period between the number of minority-owned and women-owned businesses (“MBEs”) that were ready, willing and able to contract with WSSC in its four principal procurement areas, on the one hand, and the extent to which WSSC actually awarded contracts and paid contract dollars to these MBEs, on the other. The Study will consider the time period that begins on July 1, 2009 and concludes June 30, 2014. WSSC is required by state statute and judicial precedent to conduct a disparity study in order to award certain preferences to MBEs in connection with Commission procurement activity. WSSC’s previous Disparity Study was conducted during 2010-11.
“We are extremely pleased to be working with MGT,” said WSSC General Manager/CEO Jerry N. Johnson. “We are confident that MGT will provide the Commission with exemplary services based on their years of experience in understanding complex MBE contract practices and programs and their successes in conducting comprehensive disparity studies.”
The Disparity Study will examine WSSC’s four principal contracting areas-- construction, architectural and engineering, professional services, and goods and other services-- to determine MBE availability to compete as prime contractors and sub-contractors in each of the four areas and the extent to which these available MBEs were utilized by WSSC. MGT will also conduct interviews with local business owners and representatives from trade organizations and professional associations.
Established in 1974, MGT has conducted 200 Disparity Studies nationwide for states, counties, cities, authorities, special districts, and water and utility districts. “Many things have changed since [the first study MGT conducted for WSSC in 1999]. And MGT has developed state-of-the-art tools and strategies to help organizations like WSSC to better achieve its contracting goals for women and minorities. ”
“The Small Local Minority Business Enterprise (SLMBE) Office is dedicated to fostering a business environment that is inclusive in purchasing practices and expands contract opportunities and cultivates the growth of small, local and minority businesses. This adds value to the Commission and our community,” states Towanda Livingston, Director of WSSC’s SLMBE Office. “The Disparity Study is key to our commitment. It engages the Commission’s key stakeholders and it communicates our effort to further develop an MBE Program that is both effective and legally compliant”
To be consistent with applicable legal requirements, legislatures typically authorize government agencies to establish preferential contracting programs for no more than five to seven years at one time. WSSC’s existing MBE Program was authorized by state statute enacted in 2012 and will terminate according to that statute on July 1, 2017. The results of the Disparity Study that MGT will now conduct may determine whether WSSC’s authority to continue its MBE Program is authorized for a period beyond July 2017.
MGT is also conducting the Disparity Study for Prince George’s County in this same general time frame. However WSSC is aware this could cause some confusion regarding vendors. Says Livingston, “We share many of the same business partners as Prince George’s County, so some may receive questionnaires, phone calls or meeting notices from both of us. We ask that they keep in mind there are two separate ongoing studies and it is in everybody’s best interest that they participate in both.”
WSSC and MGT will be releasing additional information in the coming weeks about gathering input from the business community, which will include some individual meetings with vendors as well as public meetings.
MGT is scheduled to report its findings to WSSC in April 2016.
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.