Beginning June 1, 2017 women-owned businesses no longer satisfy Condition of Award (COA) goals on federally-funded (specifically Federal Highway Administration funded) projects, WSDOT has announced. The waiver to exclude women-owned firms does not impact existing contracts, and it does not apply to projects funded only by the state nor to FTA and FAA projects.
WSDOT first announced its intention to seek the waiver from USDOT in 2013, basing the request on a controversial 2009-2011 disparity study that concluded that women-owned firms do not face “substantial disparities” on federally-funded state transportation projects. It wasn’t until December of 2016 that WSDOT granted the waiver.
The timing of WSDOT’s implementation of the waiver – effective June 1 – was a surprise to many because WSDOT is conducting a new disparity study, the results of which have not yet been released. WSDOT noted that its June implementation was based on “preliminary results” of the current disparity study as well as implementation of B2GNow, a diverse-business software tracking system.