TRENTON – A measure sponsored by Senators Ronald L. Rice and Richard J. Codey aimed at studying and documenting any disparities that exist in state and local contracting, between the availability and utilization of small, disadvantaged, and minority- and women-owned business enterprises in particular market areas, was approved today by the Assembly. It now goes to the governor’s desk.
“Small businesses and those owned by women and minorities deserve a fair opportunity to compete for state and local contracts, but too often they are left out. As we continue our work to ensure equity for women and minority populations, it’s important that we look at how business owners in this state are faring,” said Senator Rice (D-Essex). “Our goal is to ensure these business owners have a seat at the table and that qualified firms are included in the contract awards. These are job creators that employ residents in our towns and cities and contribute to the economic strength of our state.”
“Examining the current contract awards and identifying any disparities that exist is vital to understanding the extent of any problems with the process, and determining how to address them,” said Senator Codey (D-Essex/Morris). “A study of this kind is the first step in making sure that small, women- and minority-owned businesses are part of the process, and it’s long overdue.”
In 2005, the State of New Jersey Disparity Study of Procurement in Professional Services, Other Services, and Goods and Commodities was released, looking at those three purchase areas. The report found evidence of substantial disparity in the utilization of Minority Owned Enterprises and Women Owned Enterprises for each of the five years of the study. Total State procurement in dollars for minority-owned firms was less than 2 percent ($97 million) of total spending ($5.1 billion).
The Senate Joint resolution (SJR-75) would create a 15-member “Disparity in State Procurement Study Commission.” The commission would assess the procurement of goods and services by State departments and agencies, including independent State authorities, and local government units to determine disparities, if any, between the availability and utilization of small, disadvantaged, and minority- and women-owned business enterprises in particular market areas.
It would recommend policies, practices, and programs that further this State’s efforts to promote opportunities for small, disadvantaged, and minority- and women-owned businesses.
The measure was approved by a vote of 53-9-4. The Senate approved it Monday by a vote of 32-0.