by James Chang, Chief of Staff, Office of Councilmember Ben Bartlett
Berkeley, Calif. – On the evening of Nov. 16, 2021, the City of Berkeley received its first-ever Berkeley Inclusion in Opportunity Index Study to Achieve Equity in City Contracting (BINDEX). The data presented by Mason Tillman Associates Ltd. (MTA) raises alarms over the lack of city contracts awarded to minority and women owned businesses.
Mason Tillman Associates Ltd. (MTA) and Dr. Eleanor Ramsey presented their findings, recommendations and analysis of the city’s use of local, small, emerging and diverse enterprises. The BINDEX study focuses on enterprises experiencing barriers to access in obtaining city contracts in construction, architecture, engineering, professional services, goods and other services.
MTA’s presentation was broken down by:
- Legal review
- Procurement review
- Prime contractor and subcontractor
- Disparity analysis
- Market area and anecdotal analysis
This long-sought-after Barriers and Availability Study identified patterns of bias and discrimination in city contracting.
This report shines a light on the discrimination faced by women and people of color.
The 2017 request for equity in city contracting data legislation was the first council item ever introduced by the Office of Councilmember Ben Bartlett. Bartlett introduced the measure after numerous local business owners complained of being shut out of city contracts.
As predicted, the BINDEX study produced ample evidence of racial and gender disparities in the awarding of city contracts. Bartlett says, “We can assume other governments have the same disparities, but it’s on us to lead.”
After hearing the report, the city announced it is considering implementing a number of the BINDEX report’s recommendations to help smaller, local businesses win city contracts.
As Councilmember Ben Bartlett pointed out: “We talk about justice for everything under the sun, but there’s a blind spot when it comes to economic justice. This report shines a light on the discrimination faced by women and people of color. It’s our job to make it right.”
“We are in what economists call a ‘k-shaped recovery,’ where some folks are flying high while the majority slide into poverty. People need to know that no matter who you are, you have a shot. You can achieve your dreams too.”
James Chang is chief of staff for the Office of Councilmember Ben Bartlett. Reach him at email@example.com.