Press Release
From the Office of State Senator Royce West - District 23

For Immediate Release
CONTACT: Kelvin Bass
(512) 463-0123
April 6, 2007

Texas disparity study released to the Legislature

AUSTIN -- A state-funded report on the level of contracting opportunities open to minority businesses can at best be called disappointing, said State Senator Royce West (D-Dallas). The 2007 Texas Disparity Study, conducted by Mason Tillman Associates Ltd., revealed that the state's Historically Underutilized Businesses (HUB) program failed to meet the legislature's goals of minority and women-owned business utilization on state contracts. Findings included that most minority business owners reported problems with the State's program such as difficulties with the bidding process, financial barriers, and certification issues; all making it difficult to compete with larger contractors.

"This report confirms what I've suspected for some time now; that some agencies are not making the effort to comply with HUB procurement expectations," said Senator West. "From my seat on Senate Finance, year after year I have seen participation levels that have not improved and in some cases, have gotten worse. So while these results are disappointing, they come as no great surprise."

The report also says many HUB business owners feel state agency decision-makers believe minority-owned businesses to be inferior to majority-owned businesses. In addition, female business owners think there is a glass ceiling for women-owned businesses trying to succeed in state contracting.

"The heads of these agencies need to be aware of the changing dynamics of Texas," said Senator West. "Taxpayer dollars fund state agencies and about half of Texas taxpayers classify as ethnic minorities, so every aspect of the way business is conducted by these agencies is a matter of public interest.

"Texas spends billions of dollars each year for goods and services," said Senator West.

"Agencies have given the excuse that they can't locate qualified HUB vendors. While that could be true in some instances, I question the urgency these agency heads place on securing HUB participation. Procurement opportunities with state agencies represent a tremendous opportunity to help grow a HUB business that in turn would provide more jobs where wage earners contribute to the state economy."

Study findings, released last month say many minority businesses have the capacity needed to perform the majority of the state contracts, most of which total less than $500,000. Difficulties in obtaining bid information, insufficient lead time, contract denial and lack of familiarity with decision makers have all been identified as barriers to HUB participation.

During the 76th Legislative Session in 1999, Senator West and Representative Dawna Dukes authored language in Senate Bill 178 that encourages state agencies to provide procurement and subcontracting opportunities to HUB vendors. The legislation aims to increase the number of opportunities available to companies owned by minorities and women who historically, have experienced low levels of participation in state procurement opportunities.

For more information, please contact Kelvin Bass at 512.463.0123.