SJR 474

Joint Subcommittee Studying State Government Procurement Practices and Procedures

November 30, 1999, Richmond

The joint subcommittee focused its attention on reviewing information in three areas: (i) disparity study activity in selected jurisdictions, (ii) methods for selecting the independent consultant to conduct such a study, and (iii) the anticipated costs of the study.

Review of Selected States

After the Supreme Court's decision in Croson v. the City of Richmond in 1989, state governments began to commission studies to assess the existence and extent of discrimination in their contracting processes. These studies help to determine if a significant statistical disparity exists between the number of available qualified minority- and women-owned firms willing and able to perform or fulfill government contracts for goods and services and the number of such firms actually being awarded state contracts. Eight states that are either in the process of conducting a disparity study or have recently completed one were selected for review. The general review consisted of identification of the supervising entity for the study and the scope, cost, and duration of the study. The states selected for review were Colorado, Florida, Indiana, Maryland, Minnesota, Missouri, North Carolina, and South Carolina.

Method of Selection

The Virginia Public Procurement Act (VPPA) provides the process for securing the independent consultant to conduct the disparity study. The competitive negotiation procurement method involves three basic steps: (i) preparation and issuance of a Request for Proposal (RFP), (ii) receipt and evaluation of proposals, and (iii) negotiation and award. The advantage of competitive negotiation is the flexibility it allows the contracting entity to describe in general terms what is being sought and the factors that will be used to evaluate responses. The method of selection used by the states that were reviewed generally involved commencing the process with the issuance of an RFP. The evaluation or award criteria used to review the RFPs included: background and demonstrated experience of the firm, qualifications and experience of the persons to be assigned to the project, soundness of approach to performing the tasks, ability to perform the work in the time allotted for the project, objectivity, and cost. Staff also identified eight independent consulting firms that have either conducted statewide disparity studies or have expressed an interest in working with the state to conduct the study.

Cost and Length of Study

Based on the review of other disparity studies with a scope similar to that anticipated in Virginia, the cost for conducting a comprehensive statewide disparity study would range between $500,000 and $1 million with a tendency towards the higher figure. The time for conducting a comprehensive study may range from eight to 18 months. The most important factor affecting the time will be the collection of the procurement data.

The meeting concluded with discussion among the joint subcommittee members regarding how to determine the appropriate cost of a disparity study. There was some concern expressed regarding whether the joint subcommittee had adequate information to make the funding recommendation. The joint subcommittee determined that the next meeting would be a work session to develop the recommendation for funding.

The Honorable Benjamin Lambert, Chairman
Legislative Services contact: Amigo R. Wade