The Public Interest

To the "disadvantaged" go the spoils?

George R. LaNoue

Winter 2000

IN the summer of 1998, the U.S. Department of Commerce released a controversial study supporting a form of affirmative action for minority-owned businesses. These businesses, when competing to provide goods and services to the federal government, are granted certain bidding advantages over their nonminority-owned competitors.  The study, called the “benchmark limits” report, was the cullnination of nearly two years of research. It intended to determine the procurement areas where federal agencies could apply a 10 percent “price adjustment evaluation,” a euphemism for a bid preference, to “small disadvantaged businesses” (SDBs), which are businesses owned by African Americans, Hispanics, Asian Americans, and Native Americans.

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