JEFFERSON CITY - The Missouri Department of Transportation today issued an explanation of federal laws applying to the award of transportation projects to minority- and women-owned businesses. Under federal law there is no distinction between minority- or women-owned businesses. Both are considered one group under the federal Disadvantaged Business Enterprise Program.
DBE goals set on federal-aid projects must be fulfilled by either DBE certified minority- or women-owned businesses that are ready, willing and able to complete transportation-related work. A DBE firm must do transportation-related work to be factored into the set aside for a project DBE goal. The goals are established as percentages of the total project dollars going to DBE firms and under federal regulations are not split out into minority- or women-owned categories.
"We appreciate the frustration of the NAACP, but MoDOT is performing exactly as required by the federal regulations established for the Disadvantaged Business Enterprise program," MoDOT Director Pete Rahn said. "Efforts to change the requirements of the program need to be directed toward Congress since they are established in federal law."
Rahn also stated that, while many early stimulus projects have been in rural areas, there are no limitations to minority contractors working outside of their immediate location. Every transportation project is an opportunity for minority contractors to bid on regardless of where the work is located. MoDOT makes extensive efforts to ensure minority businesses know about contracting opportunities throughout the state and that they have the best possible chance at winning contracts.
MoDOT sends DBE contractors a list of bidding opportunities every month. Additionally, information about getting transportation-related contracts is available on MoDOT's External Civil Rights program website.
At the same time, the department conducts a statewide Supportive Services program to assist DBE businesses, including minority-owned, with business plans, bidding, estimating and networking with other contractors.
"We share the goal of increasing minority participation in transportation contracting," Rahn said. "We make every effort to assist minority contractors with bidding on projects. Ultimately, however, it is a competitive environment where the work goes to the lowest bidder."