The city of Frederick should set both long-term goals and more short-term aims for individual contracts and projects as it attempts to increase the opportunities for women- and minority-owned businesses in the city’s procurement process, according to a consultant hired by the city.

Advisors from the firm Griffin and Strong, P.C. on Wednesday briefed the mayor and aldermen on recommendations designed to increase participation in procurement. The suggestions come following a city disparity study released earlier this year.

The study was necessary to meet legal requirements as an attempt to move from encouraging more minority participation to requiring it, according to a memorandum prepared by city staff.

Presented in March and designed to identify shortcomings in the city’s procurement process, the study showed that being owned by a woman or racial or ethnic minority “continues to have an adverse impact on a firm’s ability to secure contracting opportunities with the city of Frederick, further supporting more aggressive remedial efforts.”

The city should add at least one full-time employee to oversee compliance, including holding pre-bid conferences with potential contractors, reviewing companies’ certifications and maintaining lists of companies who can help the city meet its goals, Michelle Clark-Jenkins of Griffin and Strong said during Wednesday’s workshop.

The city should also have a committee to work toward meeting its goals, consisting of at least an equity program administrator, the purchasing manager, the director of budget and purchasing and the director of public works, Clark-Jenkins said.

Companies that sign contracts with the city would have to meet the goals for including women- or minority-owned businesses or be able to demonstrate that they made good faith efforts to meet the goals.

The city’s long-term, aspirational goals should set targets for where they want to be at the end of a year, while more specific goals for individual contracts will help set a strategy for how to get to those broader goals, Clark-Jenkins said.

A successful program will also include a program to help firms that have only been subcontractors on jobs to move toward becoming prime contractors.

Such a program helps smaller companies grow their capacity and keeps them from having to bid against larger firms, Clark-Jenkins said.

The city should also present annual procurement forecasts that will help make smaller firms aware of opportunities that are available, she said.

They’ll also have to enhance the collection and tracking of data, including payments tied to awards, tracking subcontractor awards and payments and tying them to prime contractors, and tracking the names of businesses in building permit data.

A city panel designed to look at the study’s results recently got the same information from Griffin and Strong and expects to present its feedback in a few weeks, Budget Director Katie Barkdoll told the mayor and aldermen Wednesday.

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Ryan Marshall is the transportation and growth and development reporter for the News-Post. He can be reached at

(7) comments


The typical half-baked political solution to solve an issue. Hire a person who isn't qualified to dole out contracts to companies that may or may not be qualified.


Have you asked yourself why so many people of one group are not qualified? Could it be that they have not had the same opportunities for a good education and training as others that are considered qualified? If you never even the playing field for ALL people how will they ever become qualified? That’s what the BLM protests are all about, don’t you understand that Blueline?


The timing! It's incredible! How much did this "briefing" cost the city residents? What is included in the cost? I bet I could have told the city to give more contracts to minorities and women for half the cost. We need a new mayor! That's what they should have said.


Yes, the mayor could invite randos in for advice, admittedly it might be cheaper. That would surely get him re-elected.


The agreement for the study is with Atlanta’s Griffin and Strong, P.C., and will cost the city $238,000.


Great, so they spent nearly 1/4 of a million dollars to determine they need to spend more money on administering their procurement program. That is added administrative costs that will gain nothing in cost savings or product/service quality. Who is selling the product/service should not even be a consideration unless one of the bidders is an enemy of the U.S. How was the study conducted and how were the benchmarks established? Why is only one culture (Hispanic, or two cultures is you count American Indians separate from Asians under the race category) considered and compared to the commonly described races (White, Black, Asian (which includes American Indian))? When they talk about disparity, are they, for example, considering the entire Hispanic population or only those who are legally able to work. In other words they need to compare Hispanic businesses with the percentage of the Hispanic population here legally (same for any other ethnic group or culture if they are suspected to have numbers above the noise level). It would be wrong to use the wrong base numbers. It is also wrong to put any significant weight to factors other than cost and quality (in economic terms the government should maximize tax payer utils). The government should certainly not be using tax payer dollars to expand any contractor's ability such as moving them from a subcontractor to a primary contractor unless there are no contractors that can meek the government's needs. Emotions should not be part of the contracting equation, only facts.


Historically vendor selection has been based on fundamental principles:

> Price. Your goal should always be to get the maximum value for the lowest possible cost. ...

> Quality of Product or Service. ...

> Check References. ...

> Customer Service. ...

> Ethics and Integrity of The Vendor. ...

> Professional Employees. ...

> Recommendations from Others. ...

> Existing Relationships.

The selection process was mute on race and/or gender because it is not considered vital to obtaining the best service and the best price. The question for the “non compos mentis” officials at City Hall; where on your list of principles will you place “gender/race?”

Please let us voters know before the primary election.

How was an Atlanta based firm selected for this task? Was it advertised or just sole sourced for convenience?

Strong & Griffin has turned these studies into a gold mine just search their name.,+P.C.&tbm=isch&chips=q:griffin+%26+strong+pc,online_chips:disparity+study:u1WFX1aIEOA%3D&hl=enS&sa=X&ved=2ahUKEwiEgdHElPLyAhVtClkFHZd0AyAQ4lYoAnoECAEQFQ&biw=1757&bih=844

If GS is a “leader” in such investigations, why do they only have 339 followers and 345 likes on their Facebook page. Their twitter page indicates 263 followers. How exactly did they come to the City’s attention?

Mecklenburg County, North Carolina contracted the same firm for a “disparity study report.” It was delivered in October 2020.

In reading both reports the most notable difference was the cover page which had a photo from each jurisdiction

Even the “Anonymous Informants” seemed to relate the same information.

“The ‘Good Ole’ Boy’ network seems to dictate the marketplace,” AI-7 said in his July 7, 2020, interview. “It requires a lot more work to break through.” He said he is considered an “outsider” in the Frederick circle, which diminishes the connections he can make. While he continues to push to be included, AI-7 noted that the marketplaces in Montgomery County, Prince George’s County, and in Washington, D.C., are “much more accessible.”

AI-10 said the so-called “Good Ole’ Boy Network in the Mecklenburg County area surpasses the trappings race, gender, or ethnicity, however. It “does not have to be white or Caucasian, but more political oriented—like knowing the mayor or a city council member,” said the Black specialty retailer.

“Charlotte business owners still view their city as a small town,” said AI-13, a non-minority entrepreneur

who focuses on business improvement. “So, they do business with people they know.”

AI-25, a Non-Minority web designer and Internet consultant, has not worked for the City in more than a

dozen years. In her June 26, 2020, interview, she complimented the City because it “still has a small-town feel in that everyone still knows everyone in the city.”

“Frederick has excellent graphic talent that they work with consistently,” she said

when interviewed on July 23, 2020. “They are perfectly entitled to use the companies they feel comfortable with.”

I never knew until I read this comment from Griffin-Strong, apparently, the City of Frederick, has its own school system:

AI-12 said she has not tried to pursue business with the City of Frederick because of a lack of information. The Asian IT consulting firm said the City “should have the capacity to pull her company’s information and the information of other companies to send out mass emails about events, jobs, etc.,” she said in a June 30, 2020, interview. She said she did receive information regarding working for the City’s school system within a month of the interview. “I responded, but never heard back.”

The Executive Summary of Mecklenburg County and the City of Frederick contain these recommendations respectfully:


Recommendation 1: Allocation of Resources, Including Staffing

Recommendation 2: MWBE Subcontracting Goals

Recommendation 3: Robust Good Faith Efforts

Recommendation 4: Small Business Reserve Program

Recommendation 5: Increased Vendor Rotation

Recommendation 6: Mandatory Subcontracting

Recommendation 7: Strengthen Forecasting

Recommendation 8: Supportive Services

Recommendation 9 Prompt Pay Ordinance

Recommendation 10: Encourage Joint Ventures

Recommendation 11: Data Maintenance Reform


Recommendation 1: Allocation of Resources, Including Staffing

Recommendation 2: MWBE Subcontracting Goals with Definitive Good Faith Efforts Requirements

Recommendation 3: Small Business Reserve Program

Recommendation 4: Strengthen Forecasting Recommendation 5: Supportive Services

Recommendation 6: Data Reform

The recommendations read nearly the same. “Cut and Paste” is a real advancement in word processing.

The City of Frederick paid $238,000.00 for a 237 page report which contained 6 recommendations.

Mecklenburg County, NC received a 256 page report which contained 11 recommendations, wonder if they paid $257,000.00?

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