Recommendations to CBC Institute’s 21st Century Council
Transportation & Infrastructure – Diversity – Annual Report 2013
We have identified an inequity in the application of Disadvantaged Business Enterprise (DBE) participation goals on publically-funded transit projects. Large prime contractors, including railroad construction contractors, exhibit an entrenched reluctance to use non-traditional disciplines to fulfill DBE participation goals. Currently, DBE goals are applied for the total project.
We believe that actions that limit minority participation to “traditional” trades are in disregard of the true intent of the DBE program, i.e., to redress discrimination and remove barriers to full participation of DBEs in opportunities within each area of contract competencies and within all fields of work.
We recommend that DBE participation goals be established for each phase of a project, including engineering, design and construction, and for each discipline.
There simply must be a unified position, an affirmative and unequivocal plank in the CBC political platform to promote actions designed to ensure opportunities for small and disadvantaged businesses in railroad infrastructure construction. The Federal Railroad Administration (FRA) and its federal rail programs have no statutory authority – and therefore, no program – to provide for inclusion of small and disadvantaged businesses.
Ensuring fairness and diversity among those projects that receive taxpayer dollars and demanding accountability from the recipients of those funds is a fundamental role of the government, and we believe that what is good for every other agency under the purview of the U. S. Department of Transportation should be good for the FRA. In addition to being a pragmatic political stand, it just makes for good public policy and practical business sense.
We recommend an Executive Order to mandate inclusion of minority and disadvantaged groups across all U.S. DOT contracts including those funded under the FRA.