The Washington Suburban Sanitary Commission hopes its new disparity study will show more minority-owned businesses have been hired to work with the agency the past five years.
The bi-county agency will seek input during a meeting Thursday at its headquarters in Laurel to assess whether merchants have done, attempted or want to work with the commission.
As of Friday morning, 111 firms registered to attend the session.
“People talk about leveling the playing field. If we are working in our community, it needs to reflect on our community,” said Towanda Livingston, director of the commission’s small, local and minority business enterprise office. “It is my hope that we are going to close that gap and have a supply chain that is truly reflective with our constituents.”
Officials with WSSC, which manages water distribution and sanitary sewer systems for its 1.8 million customers in Prince George’s and Montgomery counties, will incorporate all verbal and written comments into the study.
The report will also focus on how many businesses conducted work with WSSC for the fiscal years 2010-2014 in the areas of construction, architectural and engineering, professional services, good and other services. The agency must also show how its Minority Business Enterprise program ensures all race-based businesses receive fair and competitive opportunities to work with WSSC.
The agency hired MGT America of Tallahassee, Florida, to conduct the report, which is scheduled for release in April.
“Anytime a government agency wants to provide race-based goals for its procurement practices, they need to first determine whether or not there are under-utilization of firms in the market place,” said Vernetta Mitchell, project manager for MGT. “That’s why it’s important for as many firms to come out next Thursday. We want to hear from them.”
The agency held two previous meetings Sept. 24 in Rockville in Montgomery County and Upper Marlboro in Prince George’s.
For more information on the upcoming study and registering for Thursday’s public meeting, go to www.wsscwater.com, or call 301-206-9772.