Office of Business Opportunity

Disparity Study

Purpose

As required by Chapter 15 of the City Code of Ordinances, the City shall make its best efforts to initiate a review of its minority and women business enterprise program at least every five years.  Timeliness of a disparity study is critical in order to analyze recent and updated performance of MWSBE’s and to determine the need of remedial programs, if any.  Additionally, a recent study strengthens the legal defensibility to a judicial constitutional challenge of the enacted program.  The Office of Business Opportunity has been charged with leading this endeavor in concert with a Disparity Study Consultant (to be determined).

Upcoming Disparity Study

Previous Disparity Studies

The City commissioned a Disparity Study (Study) in good faith in 2016, in compliance with our commitment, as per City of Houston Code of Ordinances, to make best efforts to initiate a review of the City’s Minority and Women Business Enterprise (MWBE) Program every 5 years. This Study was intended to be a comprehensive review of the City’s contracting, performing an in-depth analysis of our Construction, Professional Services, and Goods and Non-Professional Services contracts for fiscal years 2012-2016. Due to unforeseen circumstances, we are unable to publish a Study on which the City can rely to determine whether the MWBE Program should continue in its current form. Accordingly, the City issued a RFP to identify a new disparity study consultant in April 2022.

While a new study is being conducted, the City will continue to administer a constitutionally-sound MWBE Program that is narrowly tailored, taking only the steps necessary to ensure access for minority and women-owned business in City contracting through establishing non-quota contract goals, requiring good faith efforts. We will continue to create opportunities for all small businesses, regardless of race or gender. This is especially important considering the stakes for our local businesses. While it has long been clear that small businesses, inclusive of MWBEs, are the foundation of our local economy, the past 2 years have driven home the need for equitable access to contracting opportunities.

Race- and gender-conscious programs continue to be needed in our region. Recently published disparity studies by local entities such as Harris County and Port Houston show that, without a MWBE program, minority and women owned business are not included in their entities’ or economy-wide contract opportunities at the level of their availability in our Metropolitan Statistical Area.

If you have any questions, you can contact Katrina Williams at katrina.williams@houstontx.gov.