City of New Orleans Disparity Study


The City of New Orleans Disparity Study is analyzing whether there is a level playing field for minority- and women-owned firms when competing for City contracts. The study team, led by Keen Independent Research, is assessing what the City might do to increase opportunities for minority- and women-owned firms, and other small businesses.


Disparity study results will help the City determine if its existing State and Local Disadvantaged Business Enterprise (SLDBE) Program is effective and if additional action is needed.


The study began in January 2017. In late 2017, Keen Independent will present preliminary results for public review. After obtaining public comments, the study team will complete a final report in early 2018.
NOLA Disparity Study timeline


What is a Disparity Study?

A disparity study examines whether there are disparities between:

  • The percentage of dollars that minority- and women-owned businesses received on an agency’s prime contracts and subcontracts during a particular time period (referred to as a “utilization analysis”); and
  • The percentage of dollars that those firms might be expected to receive based on their availability to perform on the agency’s prime contracts and subcontracts (referred to as an “availability analysis”).

The comparison between the utilization of minority- and women-owned businesses on an agency’s contracts and the availability of those businesses to perform that work is referred to as a disparity analysis.

In addition to utilization, availability and disparity analyses, disparity studies examine quantitative and qualitative information about:

  • Marketplace conditions for minority- and women-owned businesses;
  • Contracting practices and business assistance programs that the agency currently has in place; and
  • Potential program measures.

What City contracts will be examined in the study?

The study will include City construction, professional services, goods and other services contracts awarded from 2012 through 2016.

Who is the team involved in completing the study?

Keen Independent Research LLC is an economic research firm that specializes in disparity studies. It has staff through the country, including New Orleans. David Keen, Annette Humm Keen (Principals) and Leslie Parker (Consultant) are leading the study.

Local subconsultants include Dr. Lee & Associates, The Villavaso Group, Spears Group, and Lucas Díaz. Other subconsultants are Abaci Research & Consulting and Holland & Knight.

An Oversight Committee of business and community stakeholders is meeting quarterly to provide input throughout the study effort.

Will the study results be made public?

Yes. The draft report will be distributed for public comment, including being posted on this website. The final report will also be posted after the completion of the study.

What can I do to be involved?

Keen Independent Research will collect and analyze public input throughout the study. There are a number of ways the public can be involved.
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