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New Jersey Disparity Study
A Study on the Availability and Utilization of Minority, Women, and Veteran-owned Businesses
New Jersey Disparity Study
A Study on the Availability and Utilization of Minority, Women, and Veteran-owned Businesses
New Jersey Disparity Study
A Study on the Availability and Utilization of Minority, Women, and Veteran-owned Businesses

Our Commitment

In December 2020, the State of New Jersey announced the commissioning of the first Disparity Study in nearly 20 years. The study will compare businesses receiving work from the state with those who are available. The study is viewed as key to identifying and opening up new opportunities for Minority, Women, and Veteran-Owned Businesses to contract with the State of New Jersey to provide goods and services.

“This disparity study is not only long overdue, it is an integral part of our vision for a stronger, fairer, and more resilient, post-COVID economy that opens doors for diverse businesses to play a greater role in shaping our state’s future,” said Governor Phil Murphy. “This study will provide us with an opportunity to create a more equitable business environment, which is a win for us all.”

State Treasurer Elizabeth Maher Muoio has made it a priority to get the study underway, announcing it last fall at the inaugural Garden State Minority, Women, and Veteran-Owned Business Summit organized by the New Jersey Office of Diversity and Inclusion, which is headed up by the State’s Chief Diversity Officer Hester Agudosi.

“Recognizing how long it has been since the last study was conducted, we tried to ensure that this new study will capture as much data as possible, beyond just statistics that are available on our end, but also including outreach to stakeholders and community groups as well,” said Treasurer Muoio. “This will give us the tools and the information necessary to determine where our strengths and weaknesses lie so we can implement more equitable procurement strategies moving forward. The state has a vast supply chain of goods, commodities, and professional and financial services, and in a truly equitable society, every qualified vendor in our state should have the opportunity to participate in the economy fueled by their tax dollars.”

About the Study

The purpose of the Disparity Study is to research, structure, and conduct a comprehensive and legally defensible disparity study of the State’s contract awards in construction, goods, and services over a five-year period, July 1, 2015 through June 30, 2020. The study will examine whether there are any disparities between:

  • The percentage of contract dollars that the State of New Jersey spent with minority, women, and veteran-owned businesses during the study period; and
  • The percentage of contract dollars that minority, women, and veteran-owned businesses might be expected to receive based on their availability to perform specific types and sizes of contracts.

“This is a critical time as the COVID-19 crisis has laid bare the structural disparities that have persisted in this country and state with the greatest impact on Black and Latinx communities,” said Chief Diversity Officer Hester Agudosi. “I’m honored to work on this latest effort to advance equity in the State’s procurement process. Entrepreneurship is an essential driver of societal health and wealth, and a formidable engine of economic growth. The findings and recommendations brought forth from the study will enable the state to address any disparities that may exist in public contracting and level the playing field for diverse business owners and entrepreneurs.”

The Office of Diversity and Inclusion is overseeing the effort, which is the first study of its kind to be commissioned by the State since 2003. It is being conducted by Mason Tillman Associates, Ltd., who was selected as the winning bidder after a rigorous procurement process.

Business Survey

A successful study requires the involvement of local businesses that are willing and able to perform public contracts. Please click here to complete the business survey or fill out the form below to register for an anecdotal interview.

    Frequently Asked Questions

    • What is a Disparity Study?
      Image of a woman in a construction zone

      A disparity study determines whether a government entity has engaged in exclusionary practices in the solicitation or award of contracts to minority, women, or veteran-owned businesses. The State of New Jersey has commissioned a study to determine if there is disparity between the utilization and the availability of those firms in the State’s market area. The statistical assessment of this difference is called a disparity analysis. Recommendations concerning the state’s contracting policies and procedures will be made based on the study findings.

    • WHAT IS THE PURPOSE OF A DISPARITY STUDY?

      The study is necessitated in part by the U.S. Supreme Court’s 1989 decision, City of Richmond v. J.A. Croson. The court decision imposed legal requirements that jurisdictions establish a “compelling interest” to support the establishment of minority business programs. The results of this study will determine whether a compelling interest exists for the State’s MWVOB programs.

    • WHAT IS THE STUDY PROCESS?

      The study will examine contract awards in the construction, professional services, and goods and services industries during the July 1, 2015 to June 30, 2020 time period. Both prime contracts and subcontracts will be assessed.

      Mason Tillman will analyze contract records to determine whether a disparity exists between:

      1. the availability of qualified minority, women, and veteran-owned businesses, and

      2. their participation on state-funded contracts.

      The State’s procurement policies and procedures will also be assessed.

      Mason Tillman will also collect anecdotal accounts from business owners through interviews and surveys.

      Recommendations to alterations to the State’s contracting policies and procedures will made be based on the study’s findings.

    • Who is Mason Tillman Associates?

      The State has commissioned Mason Tillman Associates, Ltd., to perform the Disparity Study. Mason Tillman is a national expert in conducting disparity studies. The firm will review New Jersey’s contract records, identify market area businesses, and collect anecdotal accounts from business owners.

      Mason Tillman is an African American, woman-owned business that has operated under the same owner since its inception in 1978 and has provided disparity study consulting services since 1990. The firm is a California corporation with its headquarters in Oakland. The performance of 145 disparity studies has earned Mason Tillman recognition as a national leader in the performance of constitutionally sound disparity studies.

    • How Can I Participate?

      A successful study requires the involvement of local businesses that are willing and able to perform public contracts. The consultant, Mason Tillman Associates, will be conducting interviews of local business owners to gain insight about their experiences and surveying them concerning their willingness and capacity to do business with the State.

      To participate in the study, businesses can take the following steps:

      • Complete a business survey and attend a business community meeting.
      • Participate in a telephone interview to share contracting and bidding experiences.
      • Provide membership lists from local trade and professional associations.
    • WHEN CAN WE EXPECT TO SEE THE RESULTS OF THE DISPARITY STUDY?

      Due to the amount of time needed to collect and analyze data from the 73 state entities involved in the study, the State’s Disparity Study is anticipated to conclude in mid-2023.

    For Businesses

    Who We Are

    Mason Tillman Associates

    Mason Tillman is an African American, woman-owned business that has operated under the same owner since its inception in 1978 and has provided disparity study consulting services since 1990. The firm is a California corporation with its headquarters in Oakland. The performance of 145 disparity studies has earned Mason Tillman recognition as a national leader in the performance of constitutionally sound disparity studies.

    ELEANOR MASON RAMSEY, PH.D.

    Photo of Dr. Eleanor Ramsey

    President of Mason Tillman Associates, Ltd.

    Eleanor Mason Ramsey, Ph.D. is President of Mason Tillman Associates, Ltd. She earned her doctorate in anthropology from the University of California, Berkeley and her baccalaureate in psychology from Hunter College in New York City. In 1978, she founded Mason Tillman, a nationally recognized leader in the area of local business program development, contract compliance, and local business program evaluation. Mason Tillman employs an accomplished team of public policy analysts, communication specialists, statisticians, and attorneys. The team works closely together to craft and monitor its clients’ affirmative action policies, programs, practices and social marketing programs.

    DEBRA LAWSON, ESQ.

    Photo of Debra Lawson

    Project Manager

    Attorney Debra Lawson has served as Mason Tillman’s Assistant Project Manager for six years and legal advisor on 31 disparity studies. Previously, she provided MWBE Program implementation and oversight for three agencies, served as an attorney representing employees in workplace discrimination litigation as a principal with Lawson Law Offices, and was the Director for Moral Character Determinations with the State Bar of California.

    At Mason Tillman, she has managed the collection of data, analyses of anecdotal information, and the development of recommendations in disparity studies. She has also drafted minority and Caucasian female goals to remedy documented disparity. Ms. Lawson will supervise the collection of the state’s records, manage project schedules and staff, and draft the recommendations based on the statistical findings.

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