Alameda County has commissioned a disparity study to see if contracting opportunities are being equitably distributed by the county.
Last Wednesday, county officials and the firm conducting the study held two sessions with businesses to request their participation and share information about the study.
Mason Tillman Associates, which conducted a study for Oakland and will soon release a study on Berkeley, will prepare the Alameda County study.
"The overall thing is we're going to measure ourselves," said Supervisor David Haubert, who is part of the Board of Supervisors' newly engaged contract and procurement committee, which has not met for several years.
"We're going to measure our results and act accordingly," he said.
Haubert does not want the county to give out contracts to meet quotas, he said. Rather he wants the county to give contracts in a fair way to the best contractors.
He wants to avoid the reality of implicit bias. He said people need to be trained to look past implicit bias.
His main objective, he said, is to avoid discriminating based on the color of someone's skin.
Black contractors have felt discriminated against in Oakland and by other area agencies, they said.
Laura Lloyd, who is the project manager for the study and works for the county's Auditor-Controller's Agency, said Wednesday, "There has not been allegations of discrimination" in Alameda County contracting.
The study is being done to underscore the county's commitment to leveling the playing field, Lloyd said.
The disparity study will provide results that if statistically significant would constitute discrimination as defined by the U.S. Supreme Court in the City of Richmond v. J.A. Croson decision, said Eleanor Ramsey, Ph.D., president and CEO of Mason Tillman Associates.
Ramsey and her team will look at data from July 1, 2017, to June 30, 2020. The study is expected to be completed in February 2022.
A disparity study of contracting in Berkeley is expected to be completed in the next 30 days or so, Ramsey said.
Alameda County has data on the awards to prime contractors and the money paid for contracts. What the county does not have is the universe of contractors willing and able to do business with the county.
Ramsey's team will use utilization and availability to determine if disparities with any ethnic group exist. If the ratio of utilization to availability is less than one, then a disparity exists, according to the Croson decision.
Alameda County Supervisor Nate Miley sits with Haubert on the contracts and procurement committee. The Board of Supervisors commissioned the study in September.
To learn more and to participate in the study, owners of Alameda County businesses may visit www.alamedacountydisparitystudy.org.