New Jersey Releases Statewide Disparity Study on Public Contracting Opportunities for MWBEs

There is a disparity in the percentage of public contracts in New Jersey awarded to minority- and women-owned businesses, according to a state study commissioned by the Murphy Administration.

The comprehensive statewide disparity study released by Gov. Phil Murphy and treasurer Elizabeth Maher Muoio evaluated public contracting opportunities for Minority and Women-Owned (MWBE) businesses. Conducted by Mason TIllman and Associates (MTA), the study identified disparities in awarding public contracts to MWBEs in goods and services, professional services, and construction sectors over a five-year period.

Commissioned in 2020, the study aimed to assess MWBEs’ participation in the State’s contracting landscape and determine the need for additional programs to promote equity. The findings highlight statistically significant disparities, including underutilization of minority-owned and women-owned businesses in various sectors.

  • Minority-owned businesses faced significant disparities in prime contracts, with examples such as receiving only 3.69% of dollars for prime construction contracts despite representing 27.97% of available construction businesses
  • Woman-owned businesses encountered disparities, receiving only 9.91% of dollars for prime professional services contracts despite representing 37.75% of available professional services businesses
  • The study also found overutilization of businesses opened by non-minority males across all areas studied

The Office of Diversity and Inclusion within the Department of the Treasury, Treasurer Muoio, oversaw the study, which included a review of over 1.2 million records and 240,000 contracts from 60 contracting agencies, authorities, commissions, state colleges, and universities. Extensive community outreach involved collaboration with various business organizations statewide.

In response to the findings, Governor Murphy expressed commitment to addressing disparities and promoting equitable contracting practices.

“In New Jersey, our diversity is our greatest strength, and it is imperative that our procurement processes reflect these values.,” Murphy said.

Initiatives include the recent launch of a web-based Supplier Diversity Management System (SDMS) to collect real-time vendor data and efforts to encourage MWBE certification.

Legislative leaders and business organizations also responded, acknowledging the need for corrective measures. Senate President Nicholas Scutari stated the importance of fair treatment for all businesses, stating, ”I commend the administration for completing an historic and exhaustive assessment of 60 state government entities’ recent history of contracts”.

The study provides a foundation for future initiatives to address disparities in state contracting. Governor Murphy and stakeholders, including lawmakers and the business community, will collaborate on responsive state action.

Governor Murphy signed legislation last week revising the “Set-Aside Act for Disabled Veterans’ Businesses” and underscored a commitment to increasing access to state contracting opportunities for disabled veterans.