Promoting Social Equity in Federal Contracting: Lessons from Emergency Management

February 20, 2023

Governments have an important role in supporting local economies and small disadvantaged businesses, particularly during emergency and disaster events. Procurement, as a strategic government function, is a key lever to achieve such social equity objectives. 
Our latest paper "Social equity in federal contracting during emergencies: A portfolio management perspective", published in Public Administration Review together with Ana Maria Dimand, Evelyn Rodriguez-Plesa and Andra Hiriscau analyzes what procurement factors governments should consider ensuring appropriate small disadvantaged business inclusion during emergencies.
The study applies the portfolio management theory to federal government spending data during the immediate response to emergencies. 
By analyzing whether small disadvantaged businesses faced different barriers and opportunities in strategic versus non-strategic contracts, we sought to uncover insights into promoting social equity in government contracting.
Key findings
There are two important results emerging from the study.

Competition and SDBE Participation. Contrary to common assumptions, we found that governments do not need to reduce competition to foster SDBE participation in government contracts. Competitive procedures can still offer opportunities for SDBEs to successfully participate and secure contracts, challenging the notion that reducing competition is the only way to promote social equity.

Strategic Contracts and SDBE Success. While non-SDBE suppliers still had a higher likelihood of being awarded contracts during the initial emergency response, SDBE suppliers showed higher success rates in winning procedures for strategic and important supplies. This suggests that in critical areas where specialized expertise and resources are required, SDBEs can play a crucial role and should be actively considered for such contracts.
Lesson learned for government officials and policy-makers
By fostering diversity and inclusivity in government contracting, policy-makers and managers can ensure a fair and resilient recovery from emergencies. Embracing social equity not only enhances economic opportunities for marginalized groups but also leads to more comprehensive and successful emergency response and rebuilding efforts. Our study encourage policy makers and managers to take actions in three areas:
  1. Inclusive Recovery Efforts: Ensuring social equity in federal contracting is vital for fostering a diverse range of businesses, including those owned by women and minorities. By providing opportunities for SDBEs, policy-makers can drive inclusive economic recovery efforts, allowing a broader spectrum of contractors to contribute their skills, expertise, and resources to the rebuilding process.
  2. Enhanced Effectiveness and Efficiency: Including a diverse group of contractors in federal contracting during emergencies can lead to more effective and efficient recovery efforts. SDBEs bring unique perspectives, innovative approaches, and community connections, enabling a more comprehensive response to the challenges at hand. By embracing social equity, policy-makers and managers can maximize the impact of emergency recovery initiatives.
  3. Targeted Approaches: The study highlights the importance of tailoring strategies to specific business categories. Different types of SDBEs, such as small businesses, woman-owned enterprises, minority-owned enterprises, and veteran-owned enterprises, may exhibit varying strengths and advantages. Recognizing and leveraging these distinctions can help policy-makers and managers better allocate contracts and support the success of diverse businesses.
If you are interested to access the full paper, go to my publications page or click the link below!


Follow this website

You need to create an Owlstown account to follow this website.

Sign up

Already an Owlstown member?

Log in