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21 this money on other items, such as purchasing bonding and Among survey respondents, 53% of states had gathered this insurance. type of feedback. States mentioned several successful methods of collecting feedback: ADDITIONAL RACE-NEUTRAL STRATEGIES · Conducting formal Internet- or fax-based surveys, includ- ing needs assessment surveys. One state has had success using community organizing strate- · Reviewing results of surveys conducted by supportive gies, especially in rural parts of the state. DBE program staff services providers. asked community leaders, teachers, and ministers to invite · Gathering feedback informally during staff interactions highway construction business owners they know to a meet- with DBE firms, including over lunch during training ing in a church, school, or restaurant. This strategy has classes. helped the state DOT recruit potential DBE firms in areas of · Having DBE program staff attend DBEs' monthly asso- the state where none are certified in highway construction, ciation meetings to solicit feedback. although there are experienced firms that would be eligible · Holding a brainstorming session with DBEs. for certification. Transitioning to Using 100% SURVEY RESPONSES ON OTHER TOPICS Race-Neutral Measures To augment the information on using race-neutral measures The survey asked states which strategies had the greatest and address challenges, the survey included questions on sev- immediate impact on helping them meet their DBE participa- eral related topics, including partnerships, collecting feedback tion goals after the Ninth Circuit Court's decision was handed from DBEs on the value of different program elements, tran- down. Six states answered this question; of these, two indi- sitioning to using 100% race-neutral measures, and using cated that they had not met their goals, and one reported that waivers to target subgroups with race-conscious measures. none of the methods had helped. The other three states listed specific strategies, with one naming its supportive services program; the second listing a business development program, Interagency Partnerships partnering meetings, and contracting special notices; and the third highlighting the use of DBEs as prime contractors. As agencies across the country face budget constraints, form- ing partnerships with other entities can help leverage limited Considering that similar court decisions might occur in resources. Survey respondents were asked about two types of other areas of the country in the future, the survey also asked partnerships--with other governmental agencies and with the respondents what advice they would give to states that are just private sector. beginning to use solely race-neutral measures as the result of such a decision. Four respondents answered the question; they · Sixty-three percent of respondents reported having part- nerships with other state DOTs or other agencies within advised states to: their state to encourage or promote expansion of DBEs on government contracts. · Involve industry representatives as coaches or · Seventy-nine percent of respondents reported having instructors. partnerships with industry (contractors and consultants) · Ensure that reliable systems are in place for collecting to encourage the growth of DBEs. contract and payment data, and prepare and organize the necessary data in advance of a disparity study. A few respondents mentioned these partnerships in their · Ensure that the supportive services program uses a vari- survey responses. As an effective or innovative strategy, one ety of strategies to help DBEs grow their businesses in a respondent mentioned partnering with the Associated Gen- race-neutral environment. eral Contractors organization to help educate prime con- · Facilitate upper management support of the DBE tractors and DBEs on the DBE program and its contractual program. requirements. Another respondent described bringing part- ners from other state and federal agencies and technical assis- Finally, the survey asked states whether eliminating race- tance providers to meet with DBEs and brainstorm strategies conscious measures affected their state's ability to meet its for building capacity. goals for DBE participation and, if so, whether the level of DBE participation increased or decreased after race-conscious measures were eliminated. Collecting Feedback from Disadvantaged Business Enterprises on Effective Measures Seven respondents answered this question; six answered "no" and one indicated that DBE participation did not change. Many states survey DBE firms or collect feedback informally However, in answer to another question, one of these respon- about which aspects of their DBE programs are most valuable. dents indicated that the state had not met its goals, and noted
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22 that use of DBEs fell off dramatically once contract goals were · Four of these states are under the jurisdiction of the eliminated. Ninth Circuit Court; two of these waiver requests were approved and approval is pending on the other two. Waivers Allowing the Use of Race-Conscious Measures · One other state--not one that uses 100% race-neutral measures--gave an example of requesting and receiv- The survey asked states whether they had requested a waiver ing a project-specific waiver allowing separate goals for from the FHWA allowing them to target specific subgroups minorities and for Caucasian women. The seventh state with race-conscious measures. Seven states (15% of those mentioned requesting a waiver to establish a financing responding) reported that they had requested such a waiver. program.