FHWA Resource Center
CIVIL RIGHTS TEAM
Disadvantaged Business Enterprise “DBE” - Good, Best, Innovative Practices
DEPARTMENT OF TRANSPORTATION
DISADVANTAGED BUSINESS ENTERPRISE PROGRAM
Race Neutral Outreach Strategies
Race Neutral Methods
Implementing a race-neutral DBE Program has been a learning experience and a realization that new methods and strategies must be initiated to achieve success. The Department has initiated new strategies over the past seven years and is continuing to develop and implement other new strategies. Some of the strategies that have been implemented in these years have taken time to mature and show results, but the efforts are beginning to be productive. Some of the significant strategies that have been implemented include:
1. Presenting a DBE Report in the monthly Executive Board meetings. The Board is comprised of the Secretary, Assistant Secretaries and District Secretaries. Other attendees include those who report to the Secretary and the Assistant Secretaries and the Division Administrator for the FHWA. Board members are frequently enlisted to continue encouraging contractors and consultants to utilize DBEs.
2. Publishing DBE Reports on the Internet that further breakdown DBE achievement by work category (construction and professional services) and by district. This information is shown for federal-funded projects, state-funded projects, and for all projects combined.
3. Publishing the DBE achievements for each contractor and consultant. For each contractor and consultant, this report shows the number of contracts awarded, the total dollars awarded, and the percent of DBE participation.
4. Presenting and discussing the DBE reports at the annual Construction Conference, quarterly committee meetings that include members of the Florida Institute of Consulting Engineers and Department staff, and other Department meetings.
5. Incorporating into the Department’s Contract Grading System bonus points for contractors who achieve the estimated DBE availability percentage on a contract.
6. Creating a new position in the Equal Opportunity Office entitled “DBE Program Specialist”. This position is responsible for marketing the DBE Program to prime contractors and consultants.
7. Revising the job duties of an existing position so that 50% of the position’s time involves contacting businesses that have let their DBE certification expire and recruiting new businesses into the DBE Program.
8. Modifying the contracts with two DBE Supportive Services Providers to require them to assist prime contractors and consultants in locating ready, willing and able DBEs to participate on contracts and to recruit new businesses into the DBE Program.
9. Requiring submittal of the Anticipated DBE Participation Statement at the pre-construction conference. When the race-neutral Program was initially implemented, this Statement was optional.
10. Providing a letter grade (A-F) for all of our prime consultants and contractors.
11. Mailing thank you letters, from the Department’s Secretary, to contractors and consultants who received an A+ or A for their DBE utilization during the previous fiscal year.
12. Mailing neutral letters, from the Department’s Secretary, to contractors and consultants who received a B or C letter for their DBE utilization during the previous fiscal year.
13. Mailing encouragement letters, from the Department’s Secretary, to contractors and consultants who received a D or F for their DBE utilization during the previous fiscal year. This letter states, “Your Company will be contacted by the Department’s DBE Program Specialist to discuss your current strategies and determine if there are additional efforts we can suggest to increase your DBE utilization.”
14. Conducting Title VI assessments on companies that achieved less than 2% utilization.
15. Attending all quarterly contractors meetings throughout the state to discuss the DBE Program and encourage the use of DBEs.
16. Contracting with a firm to recruit minority and female owned businesses into the DBE Program. This contract covers Dade and Broward Counties.
17. Implementing the new Internet-based Equal Opportunity Reporting System that will allow the Department to ensure accurate and prompt reporting and will also allow the Department to better analyze the details and trends in the DBE Program.
18. Working with Florida Transportation Builders Association (FTBA) to present awards to prime contractors with a high DBE utilization and successful DBEs.
19. Amended our current DBE Supportive Services contract to incorporate additional funding from the FHWA to assist DBEs in developing Strategic or Business Plans.
20. Creating a DBE Advisory Committee within the FTBA comprised of DBEs, prime contractors, and Department staff to discuss the DBE Program and improvement opportunities.
21. Creating a DBE Advisory Committee with the Florida Institute of Consulting Engineers comprised of DBEs, prime consultants, and Department staff to discuss the DBE Program and improvement opportunities.
22. Incorporating a monetary incentive clause in our DBE Supportive Services Contract for helping the underutilized DBEs get contracts on FDOT projects. If the DBE Supportive Services provider could demonstrate that they assisted a DBE in getting a prime or sub contract, they would receive a $500 bonus.
23. Sponsoring Matchmaker meetings throughout the State designed to bring together Department staff, DBEs and prime contractors/consultants to facilitate communications.
24. Conducting Title VI assessments on consultants who achieved low DBE utilization on all their dollars awarded during the previous fiscal year.
25. State Legislation passed that would allow the Department to waive bonds up to $250,000 and to raise the prequalification limit to $500,000 in certain circumstances. The Department is still in the process of implementing these changes.
Additional strategies that are being considered for the 2008 fiscal year include:
1. A pilot Business Development Initiative (BDI) for small businesses was implemented on state funded projects in July 2006. The Department originally submitted a request to apply this Initiative on federally funded contracts as a race neutral method in our DBE goal calculation methodology in our submittal to the FHWA on July 26, 2006. After much delay, the Department was asked to request this approval separately. On March 6, 2007 the Department submitted a proposal to the FHWA Florida Division requesting to also apply the BDI to federally funded projects. On September 25, 2007, the FHWA Florida Division forwarded the request to FHWA headquarter for approval as an SEP 14. The Department is still waiting for this approval to proceed. The districts have already identified numerous federally funded projects that could be used for the BDI, but many have missed the opportunity as we await approval.
2. Reviewing the possibility of establishing a mentor-protégé program for DBEs.
3. Monitoring DBE participation of those contractors who received a Title VI Assessment over the last two years to determine if good faith efforts are made.
4. Developing a DBE Marketing Plan.
5. Creating a plan for “One on One” sessions with DBEs and primes.
6. Develop a PowerPoint presentation targeting prime contractors and consultants to emphasize the importance of using DBEs and small businesses as subcontractors and sub consultants on Department projects.