Senate Panel Advances Bill To Examine Racial Disparities In Public Contract Awards

The Senate State Government Committee unanimously advanced a bill sponsored by State Sen. Ron Rice (D-Newark) that would require state and local governments, school boards and public universities study racial and ethnic disparities in the awarding of public contracts Thursday.

“Government contracts offer a great opportunity for steady, reliable business. Unfortunately, because entities tend to renew their contracts over and over again, it can be hard for less established businesses to win contracts,” Rice said. “This makes it is especially hard for minority-owned businesses to break into this lucrative space.”

The bill, sponsored by Rice and State Sen. Troy Singleton (D-Delran), would require those entities to study the disparities in public contract awards along racial and ethnic lines over the past five years.

It would require similar reviews every five years thereafter. The measure has yet to move in the Assembly.

“We have a responsibility to ensure all businesses in the state have an equal opportunity to bid for government contracts and that contracts are not disproportionally awarded to white own businesses,” said Rice, who is chair of the Legislative Black Caucus. “By collecting this data we can hold public institutions accountable to diversify who they are doing business with.”

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