Caltrans Submits Plan to Protect $3B in DBE Funds

Sat September 01, 2007 - West Edition

In order to protect $3 billion in federal transportation funding and in response to the findings of a recent Disparity Study, the California Department of Transportation (Caltrans) Aug. 1 submitted a plan to the Federal Highway Administration (FHWA) to ensure California’s compliance in federal Disadvantaged Business Enterprise (DBE) Program guidelines.

Caltrans is required to annually submit its proposed statewide goal and supporting methodology by Aug. 1 for FHWA approval. As a condition of federal transportation funding, states are required to employ a DBE Program.

“We must do everything possible to ensure we keep our share of federal highway funds,” said Caltrans Director Will Kempton. “The federal government has required the state to meet approved Disadvantaged Business Enterprise Goals, and if the state were to fail to meet those goals, we could jeopardize our federal transportation dollars. We will continue to administer state funded projects under the guidelines of Proposition 209.”

The study conducted by BBC Research & Consulting was the result of a Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals ruling that requires specific evidence of discrimination in the public transportation contracting industry in California prior to the use of a race conscious DBE program. The study collected data for African American, Asian Pacific American, Hispanic American, Subcontinent Asian American, Native American and Women-owned firms. The report identified that industry disparities between utilization and availability are most severe for African American, Asian Pacific American, Native American and Women-owned firms.

The program submitted to the FHWA for implementation during Federal Fiscal Year 2008 includes an overall goal of 13.5 percent for DBE involvement. Race-conscious measures used in the program will be focused on those groups by ethnicity and gender where the study provides evidence that such groups have encountered disparate treatment.

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