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The Bowser administration hasn’t revealed when it will announce the completion of the DC Disparity Study backed by D.C. Council member Kenyan McDuffie (I-At Large), but a prominent African American business leader hopes it is soon so the city can get to work on opening the contracting and procurement process to Black entrepreneurs.
The Informer was told by an Office of the Deputy Mayor for Planning and Economic Development spokesperson that the formal announcement could be made in early April. Al Swailes, the president of the DC Black Business Task Force, looks forward to the announcement.
“We are waiting for it to come out so that the city can start working on the recommendations of the study,” Swailes, 66, said.
The D.C. Council, spurred by Swailes’ organization and led legislatively by Committee on Business and Economic Development Chairman McDuffie, mandated the creation of the Disparity Study in 2021 to analyze the availability and awarding of government contracts to minority and women-owned businesses.
The Certified Business Enterprise (CBE) program, utilized by the city, is racial and gender neutral. It was implemented by city leaders after an appeals court ruling found the District’s prior publicly funded contracting and procurement program specifically for one race of business owners was unconstitutional. The administration hired two local CBE companies—Pantera and Tiber and BBC Consulting to conduct and write the Study.
Swailes said he hopes the study will be able to serve as the basis of a new minority business enterprise program that prioritizes Black firms and can withstand reverse discrimination charges and legal action by critics.