Researchers find substantial disparities in how Virginia Beach awards contracts

VIRGINIA BEACH, Va. - Researchers say there are substantial disparities in how the city awards contracts to minorities and women.

BBC Research and Consulting released its findings on the city's disparity study to council members on Tuesday.

Dr. Sameer Bawa, the managing director, says the firm looked at who got city contracts between 2012 and 2017. Of $1.2 billion in contracts, Bawa says minorities and women received about 19 percent of the dollars, but their capacity to receive them was higher at around 25 percent. Based on those numbers, he concluded "there is a substantial disparity."

Over the past year, the firm analyzed financial data, held public meetings, did surveys and conducted in-depth interviews, Hansen wrote in the memo.

NFL Hall of Famer Bruce Smith and former State Senate candidate Gary McCollum led the charge to ask the city to undergo the study to examine whether minorities receive enough contracts in the city.

Both attended Tuesday's meeting. "This is a great day for women, minorities, and small businesses," Smith said. "Now the real work begins - a conscious effort effort to improve women, minorities and small businesses in the contracting process."

BBC will release a final report in a few weeks with recommendations on how the city can address the issue.

Smith says for now he's satisfied with the report. "We're going to move forward," he said. "This is not a time to bash the city or bash your elected officials. We must do better."

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