Commissioners to revisit disparity study

Augusta commissioners will revisit a 2009 study of disparity in the city's award of contracts to minorities and women at a work session today requested by Commissioner Marion Williams.

The $500,000 study, performed by NERA Economic Consulting, was commissioned by the city in 2007, when a federal lawsuit found the city's existing disadvantaged business policy relied on 1994 data that had never been updated.

While the study was done, the city remains enjoined from using race- or gender-based criteria in the award of locally-funded contracts.

The 331-page study, available in the city's online document repository, found “significant evidence” of race and gender disparity in city contracting and procurement, despite the existence until the injunction of a disadvantaged business program.

Williams, who was on the commission that requested the 2009 study, was re-elected last year. He said he wants an update on what the city does next with the updated disparity data.

His request comes as the city prepares to award millions in transportation contracts funded through a new 1 percent transportation sales tax without any ongoing policy regarding the award of contracts to minorities.

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