Charles County Disparity Study

In 2020, the current Charles County Board of Commissioners approved funding for a disparity study. The Economic Development Department engaged the firm of Griffin and Strong a law and public policy consulting firm based in Atlanta, Georgia, through a formal, competitive procurement, and the Final Report was delivered to the County in October of 2021.


What is a Disparity Study?

A Disparity Study determines whether a government entity, either in the past or currently, engages in exclusionary practices in the solicitation and award of contracts to minority, women‐owned, and disadvantaged business enterprises (MWDBEs). The Commissioners wanted to determine if there was a disparity between the availability of firms and the utilization of those firms in the market area. The study analyzed county contracts offered during the fiscal years 2015-2019 in four industry categories — construction, architectural and engineering, other services, and goods.


The purpose of the study

  • Necessitated in part by the 1989 U.S. Supreme Court’s decision in the case of City of Richmond v. J.A. Croson. The court decision imposed legal requirements on jurisdictions to establish a “compelling interest” to support the establishment of a minority and women business program. The results of this study determined that a compelling interest exists for the continuation of the Charles County Minority Business Enterprise (MBE) program.
  • To look at the way Charles County Government procures goods and services and determine if the participation of minority and women-owned firms is what should be expected given their availability in the County’s marketplace.
  • To perform a comprehensive analysis of the County’s Minority Business Enterprise Program and make recommendations for steps to enhance the program’s efficiency.


groups included in the disparity study

  • Anglo/Caucasian/White American
  • Black or African American
  • Asian American
  • Hispanic or Latino American
  • Native American

The Disparity Study findings demonstrate that Charles County is under-utilizing minority and non-minority female owned businesses in procurements.  Findings are detailed and specific, revealing “statistical and anecdotal evidence of disparities that are race, ethnicity, and gender specific.”  Statistical findings are based on data analyses; anecdotal evidence is from business surveys and interviews.  These finding(s) create a basis for Griffin and Strong’s recommendations for measures to remedy the disparity.  The recommendations address both the statistical disparities as well as the perceptions in the marketplace. 



The final report includes positive feedback from vendors:

  • No complaints from vendors regarding the County’s bonding and insurance requirements.
  • Charles County Government promptly pays vendors.
  • Charles County Economic Development Department has a strong Business Development Program that includes initiatives such as Micro loans; small business workshops; and partnering program for small business with the SBA, SBDC, the Southern Maryland Minority Chamber of Commerce, and the Governor’s Office of Small, Minority, & Women Business Affairs.



  • Enhance our race-neutral local small business set aside program
  • MWBE Contract by contract subcontractor goals with roust good faith efforts
  • Annual aspirational goals
  • Strengthen contract compliance
  • Eliminate the use of on-call contracts
  • Outreach improvement
  • Forecasting
  • Data Reform
Next step:  Implementation

Charles County Government staff is developing an implementation plan.  Please continue to check back for updates as implementation moves forward. 


TOTAL POPULATION 166,617 100.0%
Black or African American 82,035 49.2%
White 58,587 35.2%
Asian 5,706 3.4%
American Indian and Alaska Native 1,236 0.7%
Native Hawaiian and Other Pacific Islander 168 0.1%
Some Other Race 5,544 3.3%
Two Or More Races 13,341 8.0%

Source: Census 2020

TOTAL 2,163 29,180 1,071,199
Female owned 401  2,531 88,166
Black or African American  187 1,244 61,437
American Indian and Alaska Native  26 117 5,042
Asian  240 1,578 31,606
Minority  522 3,180 109,326
Veteran  218 1,805 82,026

Source: Census Annual Business Survey 2017

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