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Madison Public Works Disparity Study

April 2015

Published by Keen Independent Research for City of Madison, Wisconsin

This study assisted in determining if there is a level playing field for minority and women-owned firms when competing for the City of Madison’s public works contracts and subcontracts. About 2 percent of businesses related to public works construction contracting in Dane County are owned by racial and ethnic minorities. About 7 percent of public works contracting businesses are owned by non-minority women. Minority residents comprise 15 percent and women are 49 percent of the Dane County workforce. The study team identified 600 City-funded public works contracts totaling $331 million awarded from 2008 through 2013. Minority-owned firms received about $6 million in City-funded public works contract dollars from 2008 through 2013, including subcontracts. The study team concluded that the small business enterprise (SBE) Program encouraged MBE and women-owned businesses (WBE) utilization to the point that there were no disparities between the utilization and dollar-weighted availability of minority and women-owned firms on City-funded contracts. This is because of low current availability of minority and women-owned firms for this work after considering the types and sizes of prime contracts and subcontracts. Therefore, it appears that the SBE Program alone does not create a level playing field for minority and women-owned firms in City public works contracting.