The Arizona Department of Transportation operates the Federal Disadvantaged Business Enterprise (DBE) Program to assist disadvantaged business enterprises on contracts that use U.S. Department of Transportation (USDOT) funds. Every three years, ADOT must set an overall annual goal for participation of DBEs in those contracts. The goal is expressed as the percentage of contract dollars that will go to firms certified as DBEs.
Through federal Fiscal Year 2014, ADOT has had an overall DBE goal of 7.76 percent for contracts using Federal Highway Administration (FHWA) funds. During the most recent reporting periods, ADOT has met this goal or has been close to meeting it.
Federal regulations in 49 CFR Part 26 and other USDOT guidance direct how an agency sets its overall DBE goal. ADOT selected Keen Independent Research (Keen Independent) to conduct Availability and Disparity studies. The information in the recently completed Availability Study indicated a preliminary overall annual goal of 9.38 percent for the next three federal fiscal years beginning Oct. 1, 2014. ADOT submitted this 9.38 percent preliminary overall DBE goal to FHWA on Sept. 30, 2014. This preliminary DBE goal was approved by FHWA in March 2015 pending resubmission at the conclusion of the full Disparity Study.
2015 Disparity Study
The 2015 Disparity Study is now complete and available for review. It analyzes the utilization and availability of minority- and women-owned firms by race, ethnic and gender group to determine whether there are disparities in the past utilization of those firms in ADOT contracts. Keen Independent conducted disparity analyses for FHWA-, state-, FAA- and FTA-funded contracts. The
Disparity Study also includes analysis of in-depth interviews with business owners, trade associations and others. Keen Independent included information in the Disparity Study for ADOT to use to develop overall DBE goals for FAA- and FTA-funded contracts and a refined goal for its FHWA-funded contracts.
In June, ADOT released a Draft Disparity Study and conducted a 45-day public comment period from June 8 to July 20. ADOT held public hearings in mid-July in four locations around the state on the Draft Disparity Study and Final Proposed Goal.
ADOT is currently reviewing the conclusions of the Disparity Study along with all public comments received during the public comment period to make final decisions related to the continued use of DBE contract goals for its FHWA-funded contracts or to determine whether it can achieve the proposed overall goals for DBE participation in FHWA-, FAA- or FTA-funded contracts solely through neutral means. ADOT expects to submit a final proposed goal to FTA and a revised overall DBE goal to FHWA within the next few weeks. The goals do not become final until approved by FHWA or FTA.