Frequently Asked Questions

What is a Disparity Study?

Disparity studies are a means of providing a factual basis for determining whether there are equal opportunities for all firms in the procurement process and support the need, if any, for race or gender conscious, remedial procurement programs. Sound Transit study will engage in a review of Sound Transit’s procurement process, availability and utilization and analyze participation in contracts by all vendors, including Minority (“MBE”), Women (“WBE”) (collectively “M/WBE”), Disadvantaged Business Enterprises (“DBE”) and Small Business Enterprises (“SBE”) to analyze whether there is equal access to public contracts for all business owners.

This Study will cover contracts awarded between FY 2014 and FY 2017 (January 1, 2014 – June 30, 2017). If the actual utilization of firms is less than what would be expected based on firms that are “ready, willing, and able” to perform on public contracts (“Availability”), then a “disparity” exists. The Study will also determine whether the disparity is statistically significant enough to suggest whether any action should be taken or whether factors other than race or gender are likely to have caused the disparity.

What is the Study Process?

A disparity study process is broken out into several major parts, including statistical and econometric analysis, legal and purchasing practices analysis, anecdotal evidence analysis, and findings and recommendations. GSPC is currently collecting data from Sound Transit that will be necessary to determine utilization of firms in the marketplace. Our Chief Statistician, Dr. Rom Haghighi will then analyze the data to determine Sound Transit’s availability and utilization of M/W/DBE firms. Senior Economist, Dr. Gregory N. Price, will then work with available data to determine, through econometric analyses and an analysis of the private sector, whether identified disparities can be attributed to the race and/or gender status of firm owners.

Anecdotal evidence is also crucial to any recommendations we may make to Sound Transit as a result of our study findings. Our anecdotal evidence includes the following:

  • Survey of business owners across all work categories.
  • Firms throughout Sound Transit marketplace will be contacted inviting them to complete the survey.
  • In-depth anecdotal interviews with businesses in the area, selected randomly from a list of available vendors.
  • Focus groups of randomly selected business owners to share their experiences in doing business in the Sound region and with Sound Transit
  • Email comments, Informational meetings and public hearings which will all be open to the public.

 

Check the website ‘Events’ tab for times and locations of scheduled events.

Other relevant study processes include an analysis of Washington’s legal environment, both locally and federally and a purchasing practices analysis. The study team will conduct interviews with City procurement staff regarding their procurement process and the current procurement policies to review whether any barriers to participation exist in the procurement process.

Finally, GSPC will compile a final report taking into account all of the findings from the research above, and will provide recommendations to Sound Transit regarding their DBE program and procurement processes.

Who is Griffin & Strong P.C.?

GSPC is a law and public policy consulting firm based in Atlanta, GA, with extensive experience in disparity research, program development and supplier diversity consulting. For more information, see:  “Who We Are” or visit us at gspclaw.com

Why should I participate?

Sound Transit anticipates spending more on its future projects than any other local public agency and wants to be inclusive of the local and diverse business community. It is GSPC’s goal to have gathered the most representative evidence as possible from all firms currently in business or desiring to do business with Sound Transit. We desire to understand both the practical challenges and barriers, as well as the positive experiences faced by businesses within the marketplace. Your participation would provide further insight into Sound Transit’s practices and may shed new light on an area for improvement or substantiate those recounted by others. It is only with your assistance that we will be able to provide Sound Transit with substantive recommendations that can make a real impact on their policies, moving forward.

How do I participate?

  • GSPC will be conducting informational meetings and public hearings that are open to the public as well as a focus group in the Tacoma-Seattle-Snohomish area. We invite all, including business owners and activists, to attend and share their experiences. We will also be posting information about the disparity study and all related events on this website and on our Twitter page, @GriffinStrong. Feel free to share your experiences with us on Twitter using the hashtag #SoundTransitStudy or email us at SoundTransitStudy@gspclaw.com. You can also do the following:
    • State your experience as public record
      • GSPC will be conducting two open informational meetings, open public hearings and focus groups in the Seattle metro area. We invite all, including non-business owners, that are interested, to attend and share their experiences.
    • Tell us your story at your convenience
      • For those who may be generally uncomfortable providing their input in public arenas or who are unable to participate in any other way but, would like to share their experiences doing business with Sound Transit, GSPC welcomes comments and questions regarding the study via email.
    • When can we read the study?
      • The projected completion date for the entire study is Fall 2019. Publication of the study results will be determined by Sound Transit and not by Griffin & Strong, P.C.