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. The study will engage in a review of Mecklenburg County’s procurement process, availability and utilization and analyze participation in contracts by all vendors, including Minority (“MBE”), Women (“WBE”), and Small (SBE) Business Enterprises (collectively “MWSBE”) to analyze whether there is equal access to public contracts for all business owners.

This Study will cover contracts awarded between July 1, 2015 and June 30, 2019 (FY 2016-FY 2019). If the actual utilization of firms is less than what is expected based on firms that are ready, willing, and able to perform on Mecklenburg County 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, private sector analysis, anecdotal evidence analysis, and findings and recommendations. GSPC is currently collecting data from Mecklenburg County hat will be necessary to determine utilization of firms in the marketplace. Principal Investigator, Dr. Vince Eagan, will conduct policy review and interviews to understand the internal procurement processes and procedures. Our Chief Statistician, Dr. Rom Haghighi will then analyze the data to determine Mecklenburg County’s availability and utilization of M/WBE 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 Mecklenburg County. Our anecdotal evidence includes the following:
• Survey of business owners across all work categories.
• Firms throughout Mecklenburg County 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 Mecklenburg County and with Mecklenburg County.
• 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 Mecklenburg’s legal environment, both locally and federally and a purchasing practices analysis to better understand the procurement process. The study team will conduct interviews with Mecklenburg County 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 re taking into account all of the findings from the research above and will provide recommendations to Mecklenburg County regarding their MWSBE availability, utilization, 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?
It is GSPC’s goal to have gathered the most representative anecdotal evidence as possible from all firms currently in business or desiring to do business with Mecklenburg County. 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 Mecklenburg County’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 Mecklenburg County with substantive recommendations that can make a real impact on their policies, and your experiences, moving forward.

How do I participate?

– GSPC will be conducting informational meetings and public hearings that are open to the public as well as several focus groups. 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 #MeckCountyStudy or email us at MecklenburgCountyStudy@GSPCLaw.com. You can also do the following:

  • State your experience as public record
  • – Attend an informational meeting, open public hearings and/or focus groups across the region. 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 Mecklenburg County, 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 Winter 2020. Publication of the study results will be determined by the County and not by Griffin & Strong, P.C.