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Among The Minority: Many Maryland MBE Contracts Going To Nonprofits

April 1, 2011

Maryland paid nearly $800 million to 20 contractors through the state’s minority business program over much of Gov. Martin O’Malley’s first term. But almost a third of that money went to nonprofits that help people with disabilities, not the minority- and women-owned companies the program was originally intended to boost.

Of the total $3 billion paid through the state’s Minority Business Enterprise program in that time, some 60 percent went to 100 of the 5,000 MBE-certified companies. State law mandates spending 25 percent of contracting dollars with MBE companies.

It has always been a mystery which firms get the most contracts, and minority business advocates have questioned whether the program is adequately addressing racial discrimination. O’Malley’s administration has stressed that minority inclusion is improving, nearly reaching the 25 percent goal.

But a look at state contracts shows that the 25 percent goal remains elusive. By counting hundreds of millions of dollars in contracts with nonprofits that aren’t minority-owned, the state is even further from its goal than it says. That makes it harder to determine how much minority firms actually get, and it could conflict with federal precedents that govern affirmative action contracting programs.

The Baltimore Business Journal analyzed more than 30,000 contracts awarded through the minority contracting program from fiscal year 2006 through fiscal year 2009 to determine exactly who is benefiting most from the program.

For the full article, click here.

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