WSDOT and BBC present answers to frequently asked questions regarding disparity studies and WSDOT’s implementation of the Federal DBE Program.
Q. What is a Disparity Study?
A disparity study examines whether there are disparities between:
- The percentage of dollars that minority- and women-owned businesses received on an agency’s prime contracts and subcontracts during a particular time period
(referred to as a utilization analysis); and
- The percentage of dollars that those firms would be expected to receive based on their availability to perform on the agency’s prime contracts and subcontracts (referred to as an availability analysis).
The comparison between an agency’s utilization of minority- and women-owned businesses and the availability of those businesses to perform that work is referred to as a disparity analysis.
In addition to utilization, availability, and disparity analyses, disparity studies examine other quantitative and qualitative information about:
- Legal considerations surrounding the implementations of the Federal DBE Program;
- Conditions in the local marketplace for minority- and women-owned businesses;
- Contracting practices and business assistance programs that the agency currently has in place; and
- Potential program measures for consideration as part of the agency’s implementation of the Federal DBE Program.
Q. What will WSDOT do with information from the disparity study?
Information collected as a part of the 2012 WSDOT disparity study will help WSDOT with its implementation of the Federal DBE Program. Among other information, the disparity study will provide:
- An independent, objective review of minority- and women-owned business participation in WSDOT’s transportation-related construction and engineering prime contracts and subcontracts. That information will be valuable to WSDOT leadership and to external groups that may be monitoring WSDOT’s contracting practices.
- Information that is useful for setting overall DBE goals and for fine-tuning WSDOT’s implementation of the Federal DBE Program; and
- Insights about how WSDOT might improve contracting opportunities for local small businesses, many of which are minority- or women-owned.
Q. How Does WSDOT Set Its Overall DBE Aspirational Goal?
WSDOT establishes its overall DBE goal based on methodology guidelines that are provided in 49 CFR Part 26. See details about WSDOT’s FHWA, FTA, and FAA goals and methodology.
Q. How can I participate in the disparity study process?
There are several ways in which you can participate in the 2012 WSDOT disparity study:
- Share your experiences working in the local marketplace by using the “Contact Us” section of this website.
- Join us for a Public Hearing and Initiation Meeting where you can learn more about the disparity study process, submit verbal testimony, and ask questions. Find out when the study team will be conducting a Public Hearing and Initiation Meeting near you.
- Respond to our requests for an availability interview, which will begin taking place in February 2012. If you are a business owner in the Washington transportation contracting industry, you may be contacted as a part of the availability interview process. If you are contacted for an availability interview, please help the study team by responding to the request in a timely manner.
- Call us if you have any unanswered questions about the study or about WSDOT’s implementation of the Federal DBE Program. Also, see contact information.