Update: Austin contracting disparity study moves forward

Updated Sept. 5 with information from the city of Austin.

A city of Austin disparity study that would aim to increase fair competition among minority- and women-owned businesses to get access to contracting jobs from local government entities is moving forward, according to city spokeswoman Blender Hill.

Austin City Council approved a contract June 20 with National Economic Research Associates, Inc. allowing it to conduct the disparity study, according to the city. Hill said the disparity study contract with NERA began July 31 and will conclude by Jan. 30, 2015.

Austin ISD's participation

AISD has been planning to participate in the study since May, and at the first board of trustees dialogue and special meeting of the 2013–14 school year Aug. 5, trustee Lori Moya gave the AISD board an update on the project.

In May, AISD began researching the possibility of participating in the disparity study, which would provide data to determine if a disparity exists between the number of available minority-owned, women-owned, disadvantaged and veteran-owned businesses being used for city work including construction and address any discrimination.

The data would be used to develop a program addressing realities of the marketplace in Austin. A funding source has been identified using revenue from AISD's purchasing rebate program, Moya said.

AISD's board planned to begin working with the city Aug. 7, according to AISD documents. As of Aug. 5, Moya said the board had changed its plan and postponed those discussions until September. In the meantime, AISD staff is working to capture data from the past three years to include in the disparity study.

"We do have to keep working on it so we are ready to go as soon as possible," Moya said.