REPORT FINDS MOST "DISPARITY STUDIES" ARE SERIOUSLY FLAWED
studies virtually always fail to show the need for racial preferences in federal
|[U.S. Commission on Civil Rights, Washington DC May
2006] The United States Commission on Civil Rights held hearings on
December 16, 2005 regarding the legitmacy of so-called "disparity studies" which
are widely used to allegedly prove the need for government imposed racial preferences in
federal contracting policies in order to "remediate [supposedly] historical
discrimination against historically disadvantaged racial and ethnic groups".
released its report on these hearings in May 2006.
The Commission's report -- "Disparity Studies as Evidence of Discrimination in
Federal Contracting" -- analyzed the testimony from four experts in this
field. The majority of the experts were highly critical of "disparity
||They pointed out that a huge proportion of such studies fail the Supreme
Court's "strict scrutiny test" regarding the use of last-resort
imposition of racial quotas in order to remedy past discrimination against specific racial
or ethnic groups.
Based upon the testimony of the experts regarding "Disparity Studies" on Dec.
16, 2005, the Commission issued 31 specific recommendations regarding such studies.
The first six recommendations (out of thirty one) appear immediately below:
||States and localities must discard disparity studies conducted using data
that is more than five years old. The results are too outdated to justify the
[racially] preferential awards given today. [Editor's Note: The Commission found that most disparity studies,
including the U.S. Dept. of Justice, not only use data that is 10 or more years old, but
also use "anecdotal" data (stories and allegations) which are not documented and
which therefore cannot be proven!]
||Officials that operate affirmative action programs must ensure that the
methodology of any disparity study [used in] justifying racial or ethnic preferences
adheres to generally accepted social science research standards. Disparity studies
must demonstrate [statistical] validity, reliability, and reproducibility of results.
Researchers must thorough document all data. [Editor's Note: The Commission found that most disparity
studies, including the U.S. Dept. of Justice, miserably fail to adhere to statistically
rigorous methodoligies. Correlations and causality, including rigorous multiple
regression techniques, are most often absent from most disparity studies.]
||A Researchers must develop an explicit rationale for including businesses
in the availability measure as qualified, willing, and able to carry out contract work.
Their work should compare only businessses that are able to perform the same
services. Analysts should remove from the pool of available businesses any companies
offering services that a government [actor] does not purchase or that are distinctly
different. [Editor's Note: The
Commission found that many, perhaps most, disparity studies, merely look at the equivalent
of "the yellow pages of minority owned firms" to provide the baseline of
"underutilized firms". This superficial approach fails to truly catalog
firms which are "qualified, willing and able" to perform government contracts.]
||Researchers, and the federal, state, or local jurisdictions relying on
their work, must use multiple measures of disparities, estimating the available pool of
firms through both broad and narrow definitions, to ensure that results are not unique to
one particular definition.
||Researchers should perform detailed analyses. They should calculate
disparity ratios within meaningful categories, such as specific industries, racial and
ethnic groups, or contract amounts, so that government can use the research results to
appropriately narrowly tailor [racial and ethnic] preferences.
||Analysts should use measures of available firms that account for the
businesses' capacity to perform the work. At a minimum, they should examine
disparity ratios by size of business. For example, instead of contrasting small
minority businesses with all othe rfirms, researchers should compare them to other small
businesses. Yet, categorizing businesses as small, medium, and large is only a weak
measure of capacity. The research should attempt to include additional and more
fine-tuned measures of capacity, such as revenue, number of employees, or the firm's
||(NOTE: The Commission made a total of 31 recommendations. For
the complete Commission report, including all 31 recommendations, see below.
The complete 100
page "Disparity Studies" report by the Commission is available from
either of the following two links (in Adobe Acrobat format):