Frequently Asked Questions

1. What is a Disparity Study?

A: Disparity Studies are commissioned by an agency to determine whether disparities exist between the availability of firms owned by minorities and women in a market area and the utilization of those firms by an agency.


2. What is the purpose of a Disparity Study? Why is it necessary?

A: Disparity Studies are used to determine whether there is evidence of discrimination in the market area where the Department makes its procurements that would justify the use of race-based and/or gender-based remedies. Such evidence is necessary to satisfy requirements for affirmative action set by the 1989 U.S. Supreme Court decision in the case of City of Richmond v. J.A. Croson.


3. What is anecdotal evidence and why is anecdotal evidence collected as part of the Study?

A: Anecdotal evidence is information that business owners provide about their actual experiences doing business, or trying to do business, with the Department, the Department’s prime contractors/vendors, and in the private sector. Anecdotal evidence helps explain and lend credence to statistical findings that will come from the Disparity Study. Businesses in the market area can participate in either a community meeting or focus group and may be randomly selected to participate in in-depth interviews or surveys. All businesses interested in participating are encouraged to provide comments about their experiences doing business, or attempting to do business, with the Alaska DOT&PF by submitting written comments via the Contact Us page or by emailing


4. Why is it important that business owners participate in the study?

A: Business owners, both DBE and non-DBE, that do business, or want to do business, with the Department, are impacted by the policies, procedures, and guidelines established as part of the Department’s DBE Program. Participation in this study gives business owners the opportunity to provide first-person accounts of their experiences doing business with the Department and/or the Department’s prime vendors. Input from the business community may direct the findings and recommendations for future policy changes.


5. What factors are considered in determining whether disparity exists?

A: Disparity is calculated in the form of an index. The disparity index is a ratio of the percentage of utilization and the percentage of availability of DBE firms. If the disparity index is 100, the utilization of DBEs is equal with the availability of DBEs in the market area. If the index is less than 80, it indicates that DBEs are significantly underutilized by an agency based on the availability of DBEs in the market area. An index between 80 and 100 – which is close to full participation – indicates underutilization, though not significant.


6. What will the Alaska Department of Transportation & Public Facilities do with the findings of this Study?

A: The Department will review the recommendations provided by MGT to determine what modifications, if any, need to be made to the Department’s DBE Program.

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