The Board of Aldermen agreed to spend more than $200,000 on this review.
Frederick, Md (KM). In a unanimous vote last week, the Frederick Board of Aldermen agreed to conduct a disparity study regarding minority- and women-owned companies doing business with the city. Elected officials agreed to pay $238,000 to Griffin and Strong P.C. of Atlanta to do the study.
Katie Barkdoll, the Director of Budget and Purchasing for the city, says the study is needed. “It’s necessary–and I’m going to say this word a lot–it’s required for us to do to be able to achieve the goals and this Administration and the DBE Review Committee,” she said. DBE stands for Disadvantaged Business Enterprises.
The study will review the city’s current procurement policy when it comes to minority and women-owned companies competing for city contracts. It will also examine the what types of minority- and women-owned businesses are available to the work for the city. There will also be community engagement before recommendations are developed and made part of the final report.
“Our current policies are vague. They encourage participation. They don’t require participation as they cannot because we haven’t performed the study,” says Barkdoll. “And what we do have is essentially unenforceable.”
The Aldermen expressed strong support for the study. “This is not for the city to establish a quota system,” said Alderman Derrick Shackelford. “The bottom line is this makes good economic business sense that we are doing something to improve our city’s economy, to improve our city’s business climate.”
Alderman Roger Wilson said the time to move is now. “Critics and naysayers may say ‘wait,’ or ‘we need the county to participate or go first.’ No, let’s not wait Let’s lead,” he said.
The study is expected to take one year. Citizens will be able to keep track of the study through a website which is expected to be set up.
By Kevin McManus