Study Reveals Discrimination in Contracts Granted by New York City

Last week, New York City Council members released the results of a study which determined that the city has not been granting a fair amount of contracts to women- and minority-owned businesses. The study, commissioned by the council and conducted by Mason Tillman Associates, showed that out of $18.8 billion worth of construction-related and goods and services contracts, businesses owned by white males won 71.5 percent of the city’s contracts, while such businesses comprised only 43 percent of the contractors available, the Associated Press reports.

The study showed that women-owned businesses won only 3.2 percent of the city’s contracts, though they represented 21.5 percent of available contractors. Black-owned firms won only 1.7 percent of the city’s contracts, though they represented 16.7 percent of available contractors, according to the AP. The New York Daily News reports that City Councilman Hiram Monserrate (D-Queens) said the title of the study should be “People of Color and Women: Do not Apply in New York City.”

The study examined the city’s contracting over five years, from mid-1997 to mid-2002. During this time, Rudolph Giuliani held the office of mayor of New York City, until current Mayor Michael Bloomberg took office in early 2002, reports Newsday. While mayor, Giuliani eliminated many of the advantages that had previously been afforded to women- and minority-owned businesses, including a 10 percent price preference for such contractors, the AP reports.

City Council Speaker Gifford Miller (D-Manhattan) was reported as saying in the New York Daily News that the study’s “embarrassingly unacceptable numbers” will be used to push for change. The study can be used to provide evidence of ongoing discrimination, something that US Supreme Court precedents have required of state and local governments in order to justify the implementation of affirmative action in granting contracts.

JOIN the Feminist Majority


Newsday 1/26/05; New York Daily News 1/26/05; Associated Press 1/25/05

Support eh ERA banner