WSDOT prepares mandatory small biz and veteran goals as mentor-protégé program enters evaluation phase

WSDOT has concluded the drafting of rules establishing mandatory subcontracting goals for small businesses and veterans. The rule sets condition-of-award goals of 5% for both small and veteran-owned businesses and is applicable on heavy construction public-works contracts and consultant agreements with a preliminary estimate of $250,000 and above. Click here to see the rule.

However, it is important to note that WSDOT has not yet set a definitive implementation date. Over the summer, WSDOT will be evaluating the progress of the mentor-protégé program (now known as the Capacity-Building Mentorship Program) toward the Governor’s diversity goals. As this WSDOT Diversity Roadmap indicates, if there is insufficient progress, then this small-business and veteran goal will be implemented. As you can see from the Roadmap, the FY-2018 benchmark of percent of spending on state-certified MBE, WBE, Veteran and Small firms was significantly below the goals set by the Governor. These goals were suggested by the conclusions of the WSDOT disparity study. In its evaluation, WSDOT will be looking to see of the Capacity Building Mentorship Program has closed that gap, and if not, then these mandatory goals will be implemented.

On a separate track, Initiative 200 was repealed by Initiative 1000, recently passed by the Legislature. This makes affirmative-action programs legal once again in state contracting. At this point, it is unclear how the repeal of I-200 might impact WSDOT’s current diversity plan. But if you look at the end of the WSDOT Diversity Roadmap, you will see that it has been WSDOT’s and the Governor’s intention to implement mandatory race and gender conscious goals in the summer of 2020, whether or not I-200 had been repealed. Please read this article by Lindsay Watkins, chair of AGC’s Legal Affairs Committee, for more elaboration on this point.

For questions or comments, contact AGC Chief Lobbyist Jerry VanderWood, 360.352.5000.