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King County Auditor's Office makes findings of contract disparity

WA News - Published Jun 17, 2021

The King County Auditor’s Office has issued a report which made findings of disparity in contract awards by the County. The report recommended that a formal disparity study be conducted which could form the basis of remedies outside of or enhancing the current Small Contractor and Supplier (SCS) program.

The report found that during the period from 2015 through 2020, King County awarded 75 percent of its contracts to white-owned SCS firms, despite such businesses making up only 65 percent of the County's SCS directory. This finding of disparity grows more significant as it is considered with reference to the dollar amount of contracts awarded; Black-owned SCS firms, for example, worked on 7 percent of County contracts during the period, yet only received 4 percent of total contract dollars during the period.

The report makes a number of recommendations for remedying disparities in contracting, while staying within the bounds of Washington's Initiative 200 law, which has largely forbidden the use of affirmative action in the state since 1998. These recommendations include, but are not limited to: ongoing tracking of racial inequities in contract spending; conducting a formal disparity study; further development of agency-specific contracting spending goals with minority- and woman-owned businesses; further training opportunities; and ensuring the validity of the data in the SCS directory.

“While the County has made strides to increase contracting opportunities to small businesses, contracting inequities persist and the County could do more to reduce racial disparities,” the auditor’s office wrote. 

Read the report at https://www.documentcloud.org/documents/20799128-contracting-audit.