Q. What is a Disparity Study?

A disparity study examines whether there are differences between:

  • The percentage of dollars that woman- and minority-owned (WAM) businesses received on an agency’s prime contracts and subcontracts during a particular time period (utilization); and
  • The percentage of dollars that those businesses would be expected to receive based on their availability to perform on the agency’s prime contracts and subcontracts (availability).

The comparison between the participation of WAM businesses in an agency’s contracting and their availability to perform that work is referred to as a disparity analysis. In addition to utilization, availability, and disparity analyses, disparity studies typically examine other quantitative and qualitative information about:

  • Legal considerations surrounding the implementation of WAM business programs;
  • Conditions in the local marketplace for women, minorities, and WAM businesses;
  • Contracting practices and business assistance programs that the agency currently has in place; and
  • Potential program measures for consideration as part of the agency’s WAM business programs.

Q. Why is the Commonwealth conducting a disparity study?
The Commonwealth would like to assess its efforts to encourage the participation of underrepresented businesses in Commonwealth contracting. In addition, the Commonwealth would like to establish a benchmark for the participation of WAM businesses and determine if any improvements are needed to optimize the Commonwealth’s contracting processes.

Q. When will the disparity study be completed?
The study will be completed in December 2020. For the study schedule timeline, click here.

Q. What types of contracts are being studied?
The disparity study will examine prime contracts and subcontracts that the Commonwealth awarded from July 1, 2014 through June 30, 2019 in the areas of construction, services, and goods.

Q. What will the Commonwealth do with information from the disparity study?
Information that the project team collects as a part of the 2020 Commonwealth of Virginia Study will help the Commonwealth with its implementation of the Small, Women-owned, and Minority-owned (SWaM) Business Program. Among other information, the disparity study will provide:

  • An independent, objective review of WAM businesses in Commonwealth prime contracts and subcontracts. That information will be valuable to both Commonwealth leadership and to external groups that have an interest in the Commonwealth’s efforts to encourage underrepresented business owners in its contracting and procurement;
  • Information that is useful for setting a benchmark for the participation of WAM businesses in Commonwealth contracting and procurement; and
  • Insights about how the Commonwealth might improve contracting opportunities for local businesses and how it could better encourage the participation of WAM businesses in the future.

Q. Will the results of disparity study be made public?
Yes, the results of the disparity study will be made public at the end of the process.

Q. How can I participate in the disparity study process?
There are several ways in which you can participate in the 2020 Commonwealth of Virginia disparity study:

  • Share your insights about working in the local marketplace by emailing the project team directly at VAdisparity@BBCresearch.com.
  • Join us for a community meeting near you, during which you can learn more about the disparity study process, submit testimony, and ask questions.
  • Respond to our requests to complete an availability survey. If you represent a business working in the local marketplace, you may be contacted as a part of the process. If you are contacted, please help the project team by participating!
  • Call us if you have any unanswered questions about the study. For our contact information, click here.