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Compendium of Successful Practices, Strategies, and Resources in the U.S. DOT Disadvantaged Business Enterprise Program (2019)

Chapter: Appendix A - In-Depth Interview Guides for State DOTs, Trade Associations, and DBEs

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Suggested Citation:"Appendix A - In-Depth Interview Guides for State DOTs, Trade Associations, and DBEs." National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine. 2019. Compendium of Successful Practices, Strategies, and Resources in the U.S. DOT Disadvantaged Business Enterprise Program. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/25538.
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Suggested Citation:"Appendix A - In-Depth Interview Guides for State DOTs, Trade Associations, and DBEs." National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine. 2019. Compendium of Successful Practices, Strategies, and Resources in the U.S. DOT Disadvantaged Business Enterprise Program. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/25538.
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Suggested Citation:"Appendix A - In-Depth Interview Guides for State DOTs, Trade Associations, and DBEs." National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine. 2019. Compendium of Successful Practices, Strategies, and Resources in the U.S. DOT Disadvantaged Business Enterprise Program. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/25538.
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Suggested Citation:"Appendix A - In-Depth Interview Guides for State DOTs, Trade Associations, and DBEs." National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine. 2019. Compendium of Successful Practices, Strategies, and Resources in the U.S. DOT Disadvantaged Business Enterprise Program. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/25538.
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Suggested Citation:"Appendix A - In-Depth Interview Guides for State DOTs, Trade Associations, and DBEs." National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine. 2019. Compendium of Successful Practices, Strategies, and Resources in the U.S. DOT Disadvantaged Business Enterprise Program. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/25538.
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Suggested Citation:"Appendix A - In-Depth Interview Guides for State DOTs, Trade Associations, and DBEs." National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine. 2019. Compendium of Successful Practices, Strategies, and Resources in the U.S. DOT Disadvantaged Business Enterprise Program. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/25538.
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Suggested Citation:"Appendix A - In-Depth Interview Guides for State DOTs, Trade Associations, and DBEs." National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine. 2019. Compendium of Successful Practices, Strategies, and Resources in the U.S. DOT Disadvantaged Business Enterprise Program. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/25538.
×
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Suggested Citation:"Appendix A - In-Depth Interview Guides for State DOTs, Trade Associations, and DBEs." National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine. 2019. Compendium of Successful Practices, Strategies, and Resources in the U.S. DOT Disadvantaged Business Enterprise Program. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/25538.
×
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Suggested Citation:"Appendix A - In-Depth Interview Guides for State DOTs, Trade Associations, and DBEs." National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine. 2019. Compendium of Successful Practices, Strategies, and Resources in the U.S. DOT Disadvantaged Business Enterprise Program. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/25538.
×
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Suggested Citation:"Appendix A - In-Depth Interview Guides for State DOTs, Trade Associations, and DBEs." National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine. 2019. Compendium of Successful Practices, Strategies, and Resources in the U.S. DOT Disadvantaged Business Enterprise Program. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/25538.
×
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Suggested Citation:"Appendix A - In-Depth Interview Guides for State DOTs, Trade Associations, and DBEs." National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine. 2019. Compendium of Successful Practices, Strategies, and Resources in the U.S. DOT Disadvantaged Business Enterprise Program. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/25538.
×
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Suggested Citation:"Appendix A - In-Depth Interview Guides for State DOTs, Trade Associations, and DBEs." National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine. 2019. Compendium of Successful Practices, Strategies, and Resources in the U.S. DOT Disadvantaged Business Enterprise Program. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/25538.
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65 A P P E N D I X A In-Depth Interview Guides for State DOTs, Trade Associations, and DBEs

66 Compendium of Successful Practices, Strategies, and Resources in the U.S. DOT Disadvantaged Business Enterprise Program TRB NCHRP 20-95A COMPENDIUM OF SUCCESSFUL PRACTICES, STRATEGIES, AND RESOURCES IN THE FHWA DISADVANTAGED BUSINESS ENTERPRISES IN-DEPTH INTERVIEW GUIDE FOR STATE DEPARTMENTS OF TRANSPORTATION KEEN INDEPENDENT RESEARCH LLC Read to the Interviewee. Thank you for agreeing to participate in the in-depth interviews. This study will identify best practices for state departments of transportation (DOTs) and their partners to promote success of disadvantaged business enterprises (DBEs) on state DOT contracts. A. BACKGROUND INFORMATION Interviewer name, date of interview Interviewee(s) name(s), title(s), and responsibilities with DOT Tenure at DOT B. SUCCESSFUL DBES I would like to ask you about DBE success in your state program. 1. Think about DBEs that obtain a substantial amount of subcontracts without the benefit of a DBE goal (list DBEs/race neutral/did not answer). a. Why do you think these firms were successful winning these bids. Can you elaborate? Your thoughts on this? 2. When asked about DBEs that are often successful in participating as prime contractors on your state DOT contracts, you identified (list DBEs/race neutral/did not respond). Can you expand on why this is the case? Do you have programs to help firms compete for prime contracts? Have they been effective?

In-Depth Interview Guides for State DOTs, Trade Associations, and DBEs 67 3. Do you have supportive services separate from construction to help professional services companies (engineering firms, consulting, marketing)? a. [If applicable] What types of services do you offer? b. [If applicable] Why don’t you offer these types of services? 4. Are you working with DBEs preparing to leave the program? a. [If applicable] What does your state do to prepare DBEs to leave? b. [If applicable] How do you track DBEs preparing to leave the program? c. What do you think the contributing factors are that eventually lead DBEs to leave the program? d. [If applicable] If not, why don’t you help DBEs preparing to leave the program? e. Are you aware of any businesses that have “graduated” from the Federal DBE Program and are no longer certified as DBEs? f. If so, what contributes to the success of these firms? g. What challenges did these businesses face on their way to graduating from the Federal DBE Program? How did they overcome those challenges to achieve success? C. INSIGHTS REGARDING BUSINESS ASSISTANCE PROGRAMS Now I would like to more generally discuss state DOT or partner assistance to DBEs. I have your survey responses in front of me for quick reference. 1. Some of the programs you mentioned include (list the programs they checked). a. Can you elaborate why these specific programs contributed to DBE success? b. Can you think of some examples when a DBE directly benefited from these programs (probe for the issue and how the DBE overcame the barrier)? c. Can you think of any supportive service programs offered that DBEs didn’t take advantage of? d. Are there “tiers” of programs that are designed for new or very small companies and types of assistance geared for older and bigger DBEs?

68 Compendium of Successful Practices, Strategies, and Resources in the U.S. DOT Disadvantaged Business Enterprise Program 2. Think about specific business development programs currently offered in your state. a. Can you walk me through how your program decided to implement these programs? b. [If applicable] Do you track the data on the effectiveness of these programs? c. [If applicable] Have DBEs given you feedback on the effectiveness of these programs? d. [If applicable] Why don’t you offer these types of programs? 3. Do you think that providing more or different supportive services would contribute to the success of DBEs? a. Do you think the current supportive service programs should be modified to meet the needs of future DBEs? b. Any new services that should be added? c. Which programs aren’t needed? 4. Do you think DBE goals help make DBEs successful? a. [If applicable] Yes? Why? b. [If applicable] No? Why? c. What would you do differently to see that DBEs become successful? d. [Adjust question if a race-neutral state] D. SUGGESTIONS FOR IMPROVING HOW YOUR STATE DOT OPERATES THE FEDERAL DBE PROGRAM 1. In your response to our DBE survey, you mentioned [responses to questions in Part C] when asked about how your state DOT might improve its operation of the Federal DBE Program. a. Can you elaborate? b. Any other thoughts on how to improve operation of the Program? 2. Any other comments or insights?

In-Depth Interview Guides for State DOTs, Trade Associations, and DBEs 69 TRB NCHRP 20-95A COMPENDIUM OF SUCCESSFUL PRACTICES, STRATEGIES, AND RESOURCES IN THE FHWA DISADVANTAGED BUSINESS ENTERPRISE IN-DEPTH INTERVIEW GUIDE FOR TRADE ASSOCIATIONS KEEN INDEPENDENT RESEARCH LLC Read to the Interviewee. Keen Independent Research is conducting research on the most successful DBEs across the country and what helped them be successful, including trade associations’ assistance. We are attempting to obtain input from related trade associations as they’ve worked directly with DBEs. This Federal Highway Administration-supported research is for the Transportation Research Board’s National Cooperative Highway Research Program and will be shared with state DOTs and others. We are asking trade associations to: Help identify successful DBEs and give their input on what state DOT programs might have contributed to their success. Provide any recommendations on how state DOT operation of the DBE Program could be enhanced. Fill all boxes. Complete as much as possible prior to interview. Interviewer name, date of interview Interviewee(s) name(s), title(s), and responsibilities with the trade association Type of industries and firms represented Geographic area served (state or region)

70 Compendium of Successful Practices, Strategies, and Resources in the U.S. DOT Disadvantaged Business Enterprise Program 1. Please tell me about your [trade association], the kinds of firms you serve and what types of work they do. 2. Are there members of your trade association that are certified DBEs? 3. If the answer to question 2 is “yes,” about how many DBEs; what types of work do they perform; and, in general, how large are they? 4. Who are the DBEs that get the most highway construction and engineering-related or other work in your state? These could be some of your members, but think of non-members as well? 5. In your opinion, what makes certain DBEs successful in obtaining subcontracts as compared to those DBEs that are not as successful? 6. Are there DBEs that obtain a substantial volume of state DOT subcontracts in your state without the benefit of a DBE or MBE/WBE goal? Which firms come to mind? 7. Are there DBEs that participate in state DOT work that you know obtain a substantial amount of revenue from their work with other public or private sector customers that do not operate the Federal DBE Program? 8. What do you think helped the firms you listed be successful? 9. Are there business development or other programs you offer that can help DBEs and other firms become successful? 10. What do you see as the number 1 type of assistance DBEs need to be successful?

In-Depth Interview Guides for State DOTs, Trade Associations, and DBEs 71 TRB NCHRP 20-95A COMPENDIUM OF SUCCESSFUL PRACTICES, STRATEGIES AND RESOURCES IN THE FHWA DISADVANTAGED BUSINESS ENTERPRISE IN-DEPTH INTERVIEW GUIDE FOR DBES KEEN INDEPENDENT RESEARCH LLC Read to the Interviewee. Thank you for agreeing to participate in the in-depth interviews. This study will identify good practices for state departments of transportation (DOTs) and their partners to promote success of disadvantaged business enterprises (DBEs) on state DOT contracts. A. BACKGROUND INFORMATION, COMPLETE AS MUCH AS POSSIBLE PRIOR TO INTERVIEW Interviewer name, date of interview Interviewee(s) name(s), title(s), and responsibilities with the firm Race/ethnicity of owner(s): African American, Hispanic American, Native American, Asian-Pacific American, Subcontinent Asian American, non-Hispanic white Gender of owner(s) If different: Race/ethnicity of interviewee; Race/ethnicity of owner(s): African American, Hispanic American, Native American, Asian-Pacific American, Subcontinent Asian American, non-Hispanic white If different: Gender of interviewee Current ownership structure (sole proprietorship, partnership, LLC, corporation, other) Type of business (primary work) Currently DBE-certified (yes/no) or date last certified, and in which states Primary location (city/state) Year firm started Why identified as successful (and who identified)

72 Compendium of Successful Practices, Strategies, and Resources in the U.S. DOT Disadvantaged Business Enterprise Program B. BACKGROUND ON THE BUSINESS AND INDUSTRY I would like to ask you about the history/background of your business. 1. Tell me about how the business got started (e.g., did you start it, purchase it, or did you get involved later... how has ownership changed over time, etc.?). 2. What were your sources of capital used to start or purchase the business? 3. What were the challenges you faced in starting the business? 4. Please describe your business now, what types of work the firm conducts and if (and why) that has changed over time. For example, have you gotten into new fields or markets, and why? 5. What types and sizes of contracts and subcontracts is your firm involved in? a. What determines the types and sizes of projects or contracts for your firm? [e.g., what limits how big a project/contract?] b. Does your firm work on both public sector and private sector work? [Why/why not? Has this changed over time?] c. What types of public sector organizations do you work for (including as a prime/sub)? [Why those particular types of organizations?] d. Does your firm generally work as a prime or subcontractor/subconsultant, or both? [Why?] Has this changed over time? [Why?] e. Have you conducted work for state DOTs? [Probe for differences in prime/sub, contract type and size, other] C. THE SUCCESS OF YOUR FIRM Your state DOT identified your firm as a successful DBE. We would like to know more about reasons for your success, or if you agree that your firm is “successful.” 1. Keys to the success of your business. a Is it accurate to say that your business is “successful”? Why might one say that? [If not] Why not? b. What have been the keys to the success your business has had? c. Were there times when it wasn’t clear that your firm would be successful? [If so] Tell me about them? How did you overcome any challenges? Did you get any help along the way? From whom?

In-Depth Interview Guides for State DOTs, Trade Associations, and DBEs 73 2. We are interested in whether and why some DBEs are more successful within their specific lines of work than other DBEs. a. In your primary line(s) of work, how many main competitors do you have? Are they DBEs, non-DBEs, or both? b. Where does your firm fit in the market for the type of work you do compared with other DBEs? If you are more successful than some, less successful than some, and why? Has it always been this way, or has the competitive environment changed? c. In your line of work, is your firm one of the companies that primes often use to meet a DBE contract goal? Why/why not? d. [If applicable] Have you always been successful getting work when there is a DBE contract goal on a project? Why/Why not? e. In general, what makes one DBE more successful than another? f. Is there anything you have done to become more successful in winning subcontracts on projects that have a DBE contract goal? g. [If applicable] Why do you think you have been able to win these types of subcontracts when other DBEs might not? 3. Does your firm obtain subcontracts or supply contracts on state DOT projects that do not have a DBE or MBE/WBE goal? a. Over the past five years, about what share of your total revenue comes from these types of projects? b. [If applicable] Have you always been able to win these types of subcontracts? c. [If applicable] Why do you think you have been able to win these types of subcontracts when other DBEs might not?

74 Compendium of Successful Practices, Strategies, and Resources in the U.S. DOT Disadvantaged Business Enterprise Program 4. Does your firm obtain prime contracts from state DOTs? a. Do you bid on state DOT contracts as a prime? b. Over the past five years, about what share of your total revenue comes from these types of projects? c. [If applicable] Have you always been able to win prime contracts? d. [If applicable] Why do you think you have been able to win prime contracts when other DBEs have not? e. [If applicable] Why do you think you are NOT successful in winning prime contracts as a DBE? 5. Does your firm obtain work from other public or private sector customers that do not operate the DBE or MBE/WBE programs? a. Do you pursue work with other public or private sector customers that do not operate a DBE Program or similar programs? b. If so, over the past five years, about what share of your total revenue comes from these types of projects? c. [If applicable] Have you always been able to win this type of work? d. [If applicable] Are there reasons that you have been successful winning this type of work and other DBEs have been less successful? e. If your firm does not seek work from public or private sector customers that do not operate the DBE or similar programs, why not? 6. Tell us about the growth of your firm over time. a. About how much has your annual revenue grown over the past five years? [e.g., from $x level of revenue per year to $x annual in recent years, or more general answer if reluctant to provide very specific information] b. In general, what was the range of your peak annual revenue since you have been in business [If applicable] c. Compared with 2017, how different do you think your annual revenue will be three years from now? [Why?] d. Is exceeding the size standards or personal net worth standards of the DBE program one of your goals? If not, why not?

In-Depth Interview Guides for State DOTs, Trade Associations, and DBEs 75 e. Do you have a long-term plan for how much revenue you want per year, and how much you want that to grow (or not grow)? [If have a plan, ask about it, and why?] f. Have you needed capital to achieve your past growth? Will you in the future? [If so] How have you obtained it/will you obtain it? g. Have you ever had revenue that would (or did) put you on a path where your firm would have exceeded the annual revenue limits for DBE certification? If so, how have you handled that situation? h. Have you ever come close to exceeding the personal net worth limits or other wealth-related limits? If so, how have you handled that situation? i. [If “no” to both e and f] If you were on a path where your revenue or personal net worth would soon exceed the limits for certification as a DBE, what would you do? [Probe for a response for each] j. Have you diversified the types of work you perform? Have you requested additional NAICs codes under your DBE certification? k. If so, have the additional NAICS codes contributed to your growth? D. INSIGHTS REGARDING BUSINESS ASSISTANCE PROGRAMS Next, I’d like to discuss business assistance programs. 1. [If not reported earlier] When did your firm first become certified as a DBE? What prompted this decision? 2. Have you been certified to participate in similar types of programs? [Describe] 3. If the Federal DBE Program had not been around, would there have been any difference in how your firm would have grown and developed? [How/why/why not?] a. You indicated in the online DBE survey that your firm would have [refer to responses to Question B.6 and B.7]. Can you elaborate? b. Are there other ways that things would be different for your firm? 4. Will the DBE Program be important to your company in the future? [How/why/why not?]

76 Compendium of Successful Practices, Strategies, and Resources in the U.S. DOT Disadvantaged Business Enterprise Program 5. Over the years, has your firm taken advantage of any business assistance programs, e.g., state DOT Supportive Services, bonding assistance programs, etc.? a. Are there types of training or other assistance that were particularly useful to your firm? b. Are there types of assistance that were not particularly useful to your firm? 6. Going forward, what are the biggest challenges for your firm in continuing to be successful? 7. [If applicable] You mentioned in the online DBE survey that your firm could use some assistance now regarding [answer to Question B-5]. Can you elaborate? 8. If you were a state DOT or other group creating a business development program to help your firm and firms like yours further grow and develop, what would it include? How would it be delivered? (e.g., group setting, one-on-one, mentorship, etc.?) 9. Would your firm take advantage of it? [Why/why not?] E. SUGGESTIONS FOR IMPROVING HOW YOUR STATE DOT OPERATES THE FEDERAL DBE PROGRAM 1. In your response to our DBE survey, you mentioned [responses to questions in Part C] when asked about how your state DOT might improve its operation of the Federal DBE Program. a. Can you elaborate? b. Any other thoughts on how to improve operation of the Program? 2. Are you aware of any businesses that have “graduated” from the Federal DBE Program and are no longer certified as DBEs? a. If so, what contributes to the success of these firms? b. What challenges did these businesses face on their way to graduating from the Federal DBE Program? How did they overcome those challenges to achieve success? 3. Any other comments or insights?

Next: Appendix B - Defining Success and Graduation »
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Firms that have graduated from the federal Disadvantaged Business Enterprise (DBE) program or have successfully competed for state transportation agency contracts are the focus in NCHRP Research Report 913: Compendium of Successful Practices, Strategies, and Resources in the U.S. DOT Disadvantaged Business Enterprise Program.

The DBE program provides small businesses owned and controlled by socially and economically disadvantaged persons with opportunities to participate on federally assisted highway contracts. As a requirement of receiving federal highway funds, state departments of transportation (DOTs) must administer the DBE program. FHWA provides oversight of the state DOTs’ operation of the program to ensure that they are in compliance with federal regulations.

The report includes appendices that define success, profile successful DBEs, and describe state DOT initiatives for DBE success. It also explores the types of business assistance that contribute to the success of DBE firms.

The report serves as a resource for staff in state transportation agencies, U.S. DOT, and other groups implementing the DBE program or providing business assistance.

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