A Rising Tide Raises All Boats, But Not in the ‘IT’ City

By Nashville NAACP Economic Development Committee

NASHVILLE, TN — The Metro Council passed Procurement Non-Discrimination Legislation in 2008, following two (2) Racial Disparity Studies completed in 1999 and 2004 that concluded that Metro Nashville Government and its agencies were underutilizing minority and women owned businesses within its procurement practices at a Statistically Significant Rate. This constitutes evidence under (Richmond vs Crosons 1989 Supreme Court case) that the underutilized minority groups and women have suffered discrimination.

Metro Government, instead of following the recommendations/suggestions submitted by two different consulting firms and acting immediately, waited (4) years to pass watered down legislation that only maintained the status quo. This legislation, a race neutral attempt to address decades of racial bias and discrimination was destined to fail from the very start. Legislation based on “Good Faith” approach assumes a willingness of both parties to reach an agreement mutually beneficial to both parties.  Anyone familiar with Nashville’s racial history and the findings outlined in the Disparity Studies could have foreseen this. Yet here we are in 2018 and we find the situation, no better and possibly worse.

Metro has two official procurement programs (Prime and Subcontractor), however existing Procurement standards allow for several methods to totally bypass the competitive bid/RFP/RFQ process of the official procurement programs to issue/grant/award contracts.

Analyzing the Procurement Standard Board annual reports for Metro Government and its agencies for fiscal years, 2012 – 2016, the NAACP found several alarming facts that allowed us to conclude that Metro government continues to discriminate against minority owned businesses.  In fact, the only group benefitting are White Women owned businesses. In the nearly ten (10) years since Metro approved and implemented PNP nothing has changed. White owned businesses continue to capture nearly 97% of all awards.

Ethnicity/Race                                     5 yr Awards           5 yr Percentage

Black Males                                           $6,226,673                     1.64%

Black Females                                       $2,032,419                      0.54%

Other Minorities                                     $4,465,215                      1.18%

White Females                                       $24,037,331                    6.33%

White Males                                          $342,925,256                 90.35%

Subcontractor Awards       $379,556,322                        100.00%

Program                                               5 yr. Total

Subcontractor                                       $379,556,322

Prime                                                   $2,927,374.849

Total                                                     $3,306.931,171

In addition to the dismal performance of the above Subcontractor Program, we identified other issues that show Blacks and other Ethnic Minorities are basically excluded from doing business with Metro Nashville. First, we noticed the relative size differenc between the Prime and Subcontractor Procurement Programs.

Secondly when considering the total spend of $3.306 Billion for both programs, we observed that Black owned businesses (both men & women) were awarded just 1.88% or a total or $62,170,306; and all Ethnic minorities as a whole received approximately 4% during the past five (5) years.  Our analysis of the Procurement Standard Board annual reports, combined with the Disparity Benchmark Reports of 2012, 2014, and 2017 from Griffin and Strong clearly substantiate our claim of discrimination and the need for new and meaningful legislation with civilian board oversight.

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