April 08, 2011

Today, Commissioner Nick Fish announced that the City of Portland and the Portland Development Commission (PDC) are releasing the results of a new Disparity Study.  In 2009, Mayor Sam Adams asked Commissioner Fish to be the Council lead for the Disparity Study.

“It’s important for the City and PDC to demonstrate that we are committed to equal opportunity through policies that promote diversity and equity in contracting,” says Mayor Sam Adams.

The City and PDC engaged BBC Research & Consulting to perform the disparity study on the agencies’ public construction and construction-related professional services contracting.  The study analyzed and evaluated the effectiveness of race- and gender-neutral practices, as well as relevant City and PDC policies.  Research was conducted on procurement and contracting procedures; Minority, Women and Emerging Small Business programs; and utilization on more than 9,000 contracts issued or sponsored by the City or PDC between 2004 and 2009.  Additionally, the study team evaluated the legal framework governing race- and gender-neutral practices in public construction, analyzed marketplace conditions, and explored possible explanations for any disparities.

The purpose of this new study was to analyze and evaluate the effectiveness of the City’s and PDC’s current race- and gender-neutral practices, and the need for continuation and/or

development of new strategies to incorporate minorities and women into these practices.  BBC Research & Consulting measured the availability of minority-owned (MBE) or woman-owned (WBE) businesses in the Portland metro area versus the utilization of those firms on City and PDC projects.

“I would like to thank the members of the Public Advisory Group whose input shaped the study throughout the process.  We are now very eager to hear what the broader community thinks of the study findings,” said Commissioner Fish.  “That feedback, coupled with the data, will guide City and PDC contracting policies going forward.”

A public comment period on study findings runs through Friday, May 6th.  Public comment can be made online at www.portlandonline.com/disparitystudyreport or at the public forum on:

Thursday, April 21st
6:30 to 8:30 p.m.
Kaiser Permanente Town Hall, 3704 North Interstate Avenue
Contractors and interested community members are encouraged to attend and provide feedback on the study, as well as what we should be focusing on in the future.

The final report to City Council and the Portland Development Commission is scheduled for June.

In 1995, both agencies participated in the Oregon Regional Disparity Study.  The 1995 study concluded that there were steps that could be taken to ensure that public contracting dollars benefited the entire community, and through these recommendations the City adopted a Fair Contracting and Employment Strategy and PDC adopted a Business and Workforce Equity Policy.

To review the City of Portland Disparity Study visit: www.portlandonline.com/disparitystudyreport

To review the PDC Disparity Study visit: PDC-Disparity-Study-Executive-Summary.pdf