Policy Documents

Disadvantaged Business Set-Aside Programs: An Evaluation

Diane Bast, Mayer Freed, Daniel Polsby, and Thomas Ulen –
June 29, 1989

On March 5, 1989, the United States marked the twentieth anniversary of the federal government's first business "set-aside" policy, expressed in former President Richard Nixon's executive Order No. 11458. Set-asides-- which now also exist at the state, county, and municipal level in most states -- are programs that reserve a precentage of government spending on public works projects for disadvantaged businesses. The programs have two interrelated objectives: to redress the harms of past unlawful discrimination, and to foster economic prosperity in communities of people whose welfare has been hurt by discrimination. 


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