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City participates in disparity study on contractors’ access

Public meetings in July will inform businesses about study

The City of Kansas City, Mo., is joining with three area agencies to launch a disparity study to determine whether minority and woman-owned firms have equal access to contracting. The other participating agencies are the Kansas City, Mo., School District, the Kansas City Area Transportation Authority, and the Unified Government of Wyandotte County/Kansas City, Kan.

A disparity study is the method used to determine whether public contracts are being equitably awarded to ready, willing, and able contractors. In 1989, the United States Supreme Court ruled in City of Richmond v. J.A. Croson Co. that affirmative action programs could be implemented for public contracting if clear and specific patterns of discrimination exist. In this case, the court determined this pattern to be statistically significant underutilization of willing and able minority contractors.

The local, nine-month disparity study will be conducted by Mason Tillman Associates, a 25-year-old minority woman-owned consulting firm based in Oakland, Calif. According to Eleanor Mason Ramsey, Ph.D., Mason Tillman Associates’ president and founder, the firm has conducted 76 disparity studies since 1990 for various counties, cities, special districts and states, none of which have been legally challenged. Under Dr. Ramsey’s direction, Mason Tillman Associates has become a nationally recognized authority on disparity studies, public policy research, and social marketing.

Two community meetings are scheduled to inform the local business community about the disparity study. At the meetings, an overview of the disparity study process will be presented and participants will have an opportunity to share contracting experiences. In addition, agency managers will discuss upcoming contracting opportunities. People who work in all types of businesses are encouraged to attend these meetings.

The Kansas City, Mo., meeting will be July 25 at 6 p.m. in the Manual Career Technical School, 1215 E. Truman Road, in the parent resource center conference room. The other meeting will be July 26 at 6 p.m. in the Jack Reardon Convention Center, 500 Minnesota Ave., in Kansas City, Kan.

For more information, call Mickey Dean, Kansas City, Mo., Human Relations Department, (816) 513-1804; or Lynn Reddrick, Mason Tillman Associates, (510) 835-9012.

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