Senate Passes Singleton-Ruiz Bill to Study Underrepresentation of Minority and Women-Owned Businesses in State Contracts

Trenton – Acting to ensure opportunities fair practices for minority and women-owned businesses, the Senate today approved a bill sponsored by Senator Troy Singleton and Senator M. Teresa Ruiz that would require the state Chief Diversity Officer to conduct a study to determine whether disparities exist in the state procurement process.

“Women and minority-owned businesses are integral to our state’s economy, yet have not always had equal opportunity or access to contracts within state government,” said Senator Singleton (D-Burlington). “This proposal would initiate a statewide study to examine the disparity between the availability of Minority and Women-Owned Business Enterprises and procurement levels, which would provide for a goal-based inclusive procurement program. Ultimately, the study will help to determine what other actions can be taken to promote opportunities within state government for these businesses.”

The bill, S-2768, would require the Chief Diversity Officer to submit a detailed report to the Governor and Legislature one year from the date the bill is enacted. The report would include recommendations for legislative or other actions that can be taken to promote opportunities for minority and women-owned business enterprises.

“By conducting disparity studies, we can establish the root cause of these issues and work from there to assist the business owners that are most often excluded from state contracts. Many minority and women-owned businesses have been marginalized by state and federal programs,” said Senator Ruiz (D-Essex). “We want to ensure that we are working to provide equal opportunities to all companies and foster a business market that is beneficial to all, not just a few.”

New York conducted a similar disparity study in 2016. The study found that minority and women-owned business utilization was disproportionately lower than availability in every category of state contracting. Disparities were greatest in the state’s market for prime contractors; particularly those providing construction-related services, such as architects and engineers.

The bill passed the Senate by a vote of 36-0.