The Disadvanted Business Enterprise (DBE) Program review panel for the City of Frederick recently put out a report on DBE participation in city procurement. The data studied was from fiscal year 2017, and revealed that 12 percent of contracting dollars in that period went to minority- and woman-owned business enterprises (MWBEs). The report was presented to the Mayor and the Board of Aldermen.
While this figure represents an increase over the figure from fiscal year 2016 (6 percent) and fiscal year 2015 (4 percent), this result has been described as inadequately representative of the total demographic makeup of the city (The US Census Bureau describes Frederick as being 52 percent female, 18 percent African-American, 16 percent Hispanic, and 7 percent Asian). In a further disparity, 83 percent of contracting dollars going to DBEs went to woman-owned businesses, with minority-owned businesses only receiving 1.6 percent of city contract dollars.
The panel has made numerous recommendations for remedying these disparities, including registering more DBEs (it is believed that many businesses fit the criteria but have not yet achieved certification, for various reasons), better tracking of awards to fulfill the terms of the existing DBE plan, better investigation and enforcement tools for bidders who do not meet DBE participation goals, and a fuller disparity study.