Anne Arundel County released a study examining its Small, Woman or Minority Business Enterprise program. County Executive Steuart Pittman requested the study to provide the County with data analysis around areas of its spending with low utilization of SWMBE firms, and to help the County better strategize how to increase spending in those categories moving forward.
The report, completed by CH Advisors, examined the County’s use of SWMBE firms for fiscal years 2017 through 2021, and compared the use to availability ratio of such firms within the County’s geographic and industry market areas. It also reviewed potential barriers to opportunities for these firms, and looked at the experiences of primary and subcontracts.
“A community’s spending should reflect its values. This County Executive envisions an equitable future for all of our residents and businesses; the disparity study was a critical investment in that future,” said Asha Smith, director of the Office of Equity and Human Rights. “The County’s procurement team has already done great work, and the study gives us all the data we need to move forward in a deliberate, strategic manner.”
The County has begun implementing solutions aimed at improving SWMBE spending, including one-on-one vendor assistance with filing procurement forms for some contracts, contracting language access services to remove communications barriers, and requiring purchases under $100,000 that require three quotes to include at least one quote from an SWMBE firm.
As part of a series of additional moves to increase SWMBE participation in County spending, it will create a Disadvantaged Business Coordinating Council to continue developing programs and policies aimed at expanding SWMBE procurement opportunities.
In addition, the County has begun development of an SWMBE strategic plan and guiding policy for its SWMBE program, and increased targeted outreach for SWMBE vendors; and will host open houses and reverse trade shows to better communicate County needs for suppliers in the market.
To review the study, go to www.aacounty.org/central-services/purchasing/minority-business-enterprise-program/disparity-study.