Disparity study to examine public contracts and local marketplace

Boulder County and the City of Boulder are working together to identify whether there is a level playing field for small and diverse businesses in public contracts and in the local marketplace. Partnering with the firm Keen Independent Research, the city and the county will perform a disparity study to examine participation of small, minority- and woman-owned firms in county and city contracts.

A disparity study is a tool to determine if a government’s procurement procedures either actively or passively discriminate against small, minority- or women-owned business. This analysis identifies the availability of small, minority- and women-owned businesses in the marketplace, measures the presence of diversity in government procurements and determines whether there is a disparity between availability of these types of businesses and contracts awarded to them.

“Local government contracts provide economic opportunity for small businesses to thrive,” County Administrator Jana Petersen said. “This study asks business owners and leaders to share their experiences with attempting to do business with Boulder County and the City of Boulder in order to understand and document any barriers or systemic inequities that may exist so we can address them.”

“Procurement reform can help governments spend wisely and deliver the best service possible while also spurring economic development in historically excluded communities and addressing longstanding systematic inequities,” said City of Boulder Equity Officer Aimee Kane. “We hope this disparity study will give us a clear understanding of where we are starting from, so we can evaluate any future improvement efforts.”

The study will examine procurement data from the city and the county between 2018 and 2022. As part of the study, Keen Independent will be conducting surveys, interviews and business advisory group discussions over the next several months. Final reports for the city and the county are anticipated in the fall of 2024 and will be used to inform contracting changes to address disparities that are identified in the reports.

For more information, visit the study website hosted by Keen Independent Research, or call the Keen telephone hotline at 602-704-0125. Additional information is available on the City of Boulder project web page.