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Nassau County spending review finds low MWBE participation on local contracts


NY News - Published Jan 22, 2021

[UPDATE 01/22/21: Nassau County has hired a consultant on a two-year contract (with an option for renewing for one further year) to do a formal disparity study on Nassau County public procurement (the same consultant will also work with Suffolk County as part of the same contract). The final report is expected in the first quarter of 2022. For more information, see https://www.newsday.com/long-island/politics/nassau-minority-contracting-legislature-curran-1.50116432.]

A review of Nassau County's contract spending conducted by the County's Department of Public Works and obtained by Newsday found that less 7 percent of the nearly $2 billion in contract spending during the period of 2014 through 2019 went to firms owned by minorities and women (MWBEs).

Currently, while there is an obligation for County officials to seek MWBEs in good faith for contracts, there is no participation goal for MWBEs on County spending, in contrast to New York State's goal of utilizing MWBEs on 30 percent of state contract spending. The 7 percent figure represents all contracts for Nassau County, including those that did have participation requirements, as well as the local contracts without such requirements.

Nassau County Executive Laura Curran is currently planning to commission a full disparity study, something which has been requested by MWBEs and other stakeholders. The disparity study could potentially form part of the legal justification for setting contract goals on a local basis, if it finds underutilization of MWBEs relative to their availability. The most recent disparity study for Nassau County took place in 2003, and while it laid out aspirational guidelines, representatives of MWBEs have commented that turnover and policy stalling at the Office of Minority Affairs has hampered progress, and have stated that the disparity study is a vital necessity for reform.

Read more at https://www.newsday.com/long-island/nassau/minority-contracts-nassau-1.50107671.