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WSDOT Disparity Study highlights significantly increased utilization of DBE firms

WSDOT Disparity Study highlights significantly increased utilization of DBE firms – WSDOT’s newly released Disparity Study shows significant improvement in the utilization of DBE firms, particularly on state-funded contracts.

The Disparity Study 2024 analyzed WSDOT construction and consultant contracts awarded between Oct. 1, 2017, and Sept. 30, 2021, to determine whether specific populations are underrepresented as contractors and subcontractors working on WSDOT federally-funded and state-funded contracts.

During the study period, the agency increased utilization for DBE firms on federally funded construction and consultant contracts (102.2 percent of availability), compared to WSDOT’s previous Disparity Study from 2017 (92.5 percent of availability). Based on the 2024 disparity study availability data, WSDOT will evaluate establishing a new overall DBE goal of 17.9 percent.

“WSDOT’s utilization of DBE firms on state-funded construction and consultant contracts also increased, from a 33.5 percent disparity ratio in the 2017 Disparity Study to 85.8 percent in this Disparity Study. This increase puts WSDOT’s utilization of DBE firms on state-funded contracts above the statistical threshold of 80 percent, where discrimination can typically be reasonably inferred,” said WSDOT Senior Director of Transportation Equity Earl Key in an announcement. “As a result, WSDOT will not be moving to an enforceable Minority, Veteran, and Women’s Business Enterprise (MVWBE) Program at this time. However, WSDOT will continue to implement race-neutral measures such as the mandatory Small and Veterans Business Enterprise program and will continue to monitor DBE participation on both its state and federal-funded contracts.” Key noted that while there was improvement across the board, Black-owned and Native American-owned firms did not improve as much as others.

AGC’s Executive Vice President David D’Hondt applauded the results. “This is great news for the industry,” he said. “Through the Mentor-Protégé program, Contractor Exchange and other efforts, AGC general contractors have worked hard to successfully bring more DBE partners onto WSDOT projects. We’re proud of the 100-plus certified firms who are members of AGC, and I believe they appreciate how AGC membership can help grow their companies.”

In a letter to AGC, WSDOT Secretary Roger Millar said, “The AGC’s collaboration in increasing diverse business utilization on Washington State Department of Transportation state-funded projects assisted our agency in significantly improving our disparity study ratios… You successfully partnered with WSDOT to develop the state’s first successful Capacity-Building Mentorship Program, which aided in removing disparities from diverse firms in the highway transportation industry.”

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