All certified disadvantaged firms now qualify on federal transportation contracts
Based on the results of the 2016 Disparity Study, the Oregon Department of Transportation has received approval from Federal Highway Administration to include all minority Disadvantaged Business Enterprise (DBE) certified firms, across all race groups, to participate in meeting contract goals enforced on federally-funded projects. Until now, ODOT has been operating its DBE program in a narrowly-tailored fashion—allowing only African-American-owned and subcontinent Asian-American-owned firms to fulfill contract goals—due to federal restrictions requiring the agency to show there have been disparities in any given racial category.
“Our updated study found that there are firms from all sectors available, and while we’ve seen an increase in hiring disadvantaged firms over the years, there is room to involve them even more in our projects,” said ODOT Director Matt Garrett. “With FHWA approval, we get to open that door wider.”
ODOT conducted the recent study to analyze whether there is a level playing field for minority- and women-owned firms in the Oregon transportation contracting industry. The report found that these firms represent 19.2% of all firms “available” to perform ODOT transportation contracts. From 2010–2014, minority- and women-owned firms received 11.7% of total ODOT contract dollars—creating a disparity of utilization equaling 7.5 percent. After presenting the draft study at public hearings around the state, the report went to FHWA and federal officials approved the change effective immediately. Further recommendations based on the study await federal review. Review the draft study and learn more about the program online.