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18 Respondents did not provide detail on how they imple- Encouraging Prime Contractors to Accommodate mented this strategy. However, in interviews for Case Exam- Non-union DBE Firms ple #1 (see chapter five) on reserving small contracts for small businesses, an FDOT manager noted that unbundling contracts This strategy was mentioned by one state that has experienced creates additional work for procurement and engineering staff, problems with prime contractors that are unionized being who may then have to process and execute several small con- reluctant to hire DBE firms that are not. This state encourages tracts instead of one larger one. He noted that using this strat- contractors to negotiate project-specific labor agreements for egy involves striking a balance between meeting the needs of non-union DBEs to enable them to work on the projects with- the DBE program and being sensitive to the workloads of other out violating the prime's union agreement. This respondent areas of the department. also noted that federal DBE regulations do not allow con- tractors to refuse to hire DBEs based on their non-union sta- Respondents mentioned several other administrative sup- tus; this state makes this clear to both prime contractors and port strategies. Strategies targeting DBE firms are listed first, DBE firms. followed by strategies targeting prime contractors. MARKETING AND OUTREACH STRATEGIES Establishing a Small Business Certification Marketing and outreach strategies include efforts that a state takes to market, brand, and publicize its DBE programs, and One state described implementing an Emerging Small Busi- other efforts to reach out to DBE firms throughout the state, ness Enterprise (ESBE) certification to ensure that the maxi- including qualified firms that are not yet certified. mum feasible portion of its overall DBE goal is met by using race-neutral means. "ESBE contract goals are established so In this section, marketing and outreach strategies are listed that, over the period to which the overall DBE goal applies, in order from most to least effective (as rated by survey respon- they will cumulatively result in meeting the overall goal dents). (See Appendix B for full details on respondents' ratings through the use of race-neutral means," the respondent wrote. of each strategy.) All DBEs are considered to be ESBEs for the purposes of goal setting, and the use of the ESBE certification has allowed this Many strategies in this section are interrelated, and in some state to be very aggressive in terms of goal setting on individ- cases respondents commented on which marketing strategies ual contracts. were most effective. Although notifying DBEs of contract opportunities by fax or e-mail was described as effective, pub- lishing contract opportunities in newspapers and trade papers Making Efforts to Bring DBE Firms into the Full Range of Highway Contracting was not. One respondent noted that feedback from DBEs indi- cated that firms do not have time to search for opportunities in The survey asked respondents about this issue in an open- newspapers. ended question; they were not asked to rate this strategy's effectiveness. Fifty-four percent of respondents said they Branding, Marketing, and Publicizing the State's had taken race-neutral measures in this area; one respondent's DBE Programs; Creating a DBE Directory; and/or agency invites a wide range of DBE firms to its classroom- Providing Information Through Outreach Events, based training and encourages prime contractors to expand Publications, Websites, and Other Vehicles their use of DBEs beyond traffic control, landscaping, and trucking. All of the states had used this strategy; 85% found it to be effective, with 60% rating it a 4 or 5 (very or extremely effec- tive). Federal DBE regulations require all states to maintain Monitoring Design-Build Contracts a DBE directory. Many states also have DBE newsletters, for DBE Opportunities and several respondents mentioned their state's newsletters in their responses. The respondent from Vermont provided This strategy involves aggressively monitoring design-build the following link to that state's electronic archive of DBE contracts to take maximum advantage of new DBE opportu- newsletters: nities at each stage of the project. Newsletter.htm. Commissioning a Capacity Analysis Study Examples of effective implementations include: A capacity analysis study aims to quantify the capacity of DBE Holding panels of successful DBEs to share their expe- firms to perform in different areas of highway construction. riences and inspire others. The difficulty of quantifying capacity in a consistent manner Attending marketplace/trade show events and network- was noted as a challenge in implementing this strategy. ing outreach events.

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19 Hosting construction conferences geared to prime Encouraging and facilitating partnerships among DBE contractors and DBEs that discuss the general direc- firms. tion of the construction industry, with upper management Targeting prime contractors with assistance in fulfilling from the state DOT, FHWA, and other government DBE participation commitments. agencies attending to discuss the importance of DBE Holding pre-bid or pre-letting meetings. participation. One state cautioned against holding meet-and-greet events that are solely for DBEs and do not involve department project Strategy #10: Notifying DBEs of new construction delivery staff or the prime contracting community, noting that projects by e-mail giving DBEs opportunities to network and build relationships Eighty-nine percent of states had used this strategy; of those, with prime contractors is key to the success of these events. 74% found it to be effective, but only 33% rated it a 4 or 5 (very or extremely effective). Examples of effective imple- Encouraging and Facilitating Partnerships mentations included: Among DBE Firms Creating a listserv to aid in getting information out to all Assisting DBE firms in forming partnerships with one another bidders and subcontractor candidates efficiently. is a common strategy as well. Examples of successful imple- Weekly electronic notification of all new bidding oppor- mentations include: tunities and bid results. Assisting several independent truck owner/operator DBE firms in forming a consortium to bid projects together, Strategy #11: Facilitating meetings and with each DBE acting as consortium prime contractor in networking between DBEs and prime contractors rotation. The state assisted these firms in marketing the and technical assistance partners newly formed consortium. Ninety-six percent of states had used this strategy; of those, Encouraging DBE firms to form project partnerships 69% found it to be effective, with 47% rating it a 4 or 5 (very with firms that perform work in complementary areas. or extremely effective). Respondents wrote more comments Encouraging graduating DBE firms to actively mentor or about this strategy than about any other. Respondents' com- form joint ventures with other DBE firms. ments on this strategy are divided into two categories: establishing new relationships and maintaining successful Targeting and Assisting Prime Contractors partnerships on existing projects. Some states perform outreach to prime contractors to encour- Establishing New Relationships age use of DBE firms. One respondent mentioned that being a small state allows the DBE program staff to work with each Introducing DBE Firms to Prime Contractors prime contractor directly, whereas another state sends letters to all contractors and subcontractors explaining their obligations Facilitating one-on-one interactions between prime contrac- toward meeting DBE program goals. This state tracks DBE tors and DBE firms, and between DBE firms and DOT staff, is participation by project to identify contractors and projects a commonly used strategy. Small states may be able to make with below-average DBE usage, which allows the DBE coor- introductions directly through DBE program staff, and many dinator to work proactively with the firms involved to address states host meet-and-greet sessions that can take a variety of any problems. The state stressed the importance of providing formats. Examples include: prime contractors with the means to identify DBEs for each project, including providing a clear database, cross-reference Contractor speed dating: Prime contractors are given information, and suggestions when needed. booths and DBE firms rotate through them every 10 min. An annual "Meet the Primes" event held in conjunc- Holding Pre-bid or Pre-letting Meetings tion with a monthly meeting of the state road builders association. Several states hold these meetings, which allow prime con- Project-specific matchmaker events that are geared to tractors and DBEs interested in a particular project to meet. DBEs, but are open to other small businesses as well. Examples of successful implementations include: An annual workshop focused on expansion and part- nering opportunities. Design-build pre-bid meetings in which DBE firms are given a few minutes each to introduce themselves and Other examples of successful implementations include: their businesses to the short-listed prime contractors.