Mayor Sharon Weston Broome has selected Denver-based Keen Independent Research to conduct a $300,000 study that will examine whether disparities exist for small, minority and woman- and veteran-owned businesses in the city-parish contracting process.
Keen completed a similar study in New Orleans earlier this year, commissioned by former Mayor Mitch Landrieu for nearly $500,000. The firm has conducted more than 100 disparity studies across the country, principal Annette Humm Keen said in a news release.
Pending Metro Council approval, the firm will begin the disparity study in September, which will take one year to complete, with a goal of expanding the pool of bidders on city-parish contracts. Last year, 24% of the 274 sealed bids had only one bid or no bids at all, Broome said in the release.
The Keen firm will design and conduct the study to identify what small, minority, woman- and veteran-owned businesses in East Baton Rouge Parish qualify for government contract work, while also determining what, if any, bias exists in city-parish departmental procurement practices.
“This is a step toward building inclusivity and equity into the fabric of our community,” Broome said. “My administration remains focused on identifying disparities among those who do business with the city-parish. This data will also help us increase competition and obtain the best price on contracts.”
After the Metro Council approved the study in February, Broome issued a request for proposals in March. Seven companies submitted responses:
- Keen Independent Research of Denver
- Griffin & Strong of Atlanta
- Euquant of Atlanta
- Miller3 Consulting of Atlanta
- Mason Tillman Associates, or MTA, of Oakland, California
- MGT Consulting Group of Tallahassee, Florida
- Abaci Research & Consulting, or ARC, of Bastrop, Texas
Keen’s proposal was most responsive to the needs of the city-parish—including the cost, Broome said.
Last November, the mayor signed an executive order for the study, saying she aimed to “change the culture” of city-parish contracting to give disadvantaged businesses a better shot at landing government contracts. The study is meant to be the first in a series of steps to extend government contracts to a wider group of businesses.