After More than Two Years, USDOT Rejects WSDOT’s Recommendation to Reinstate Non-Minority Women-Owned DBEs into DBE Participation Goals

Woman holding hands up in stop

The DBE program has the goal of increasing women and minority-owned business participation in federally-funded transportation contracting.

February 24, 2020
Ellie Perka - Ahlers Cressman & Sleight PLLC

For the past several years, Ahlers Cressman & Sleight has been closely following news of Washington State Department of Transportation’s (“WSDOT’s”) exclusion of non-minority women-owned Disadvantaged Business Enterprises (“DBEs”)[1] from qualifying toward Condition of Award (“COA”) Goals on federally-funded projects. See ACS’s letter of January 9, 2014 and blog articles of June 2, 2017 and September 21, 2017.

In a striking—and long awaited—decision issued just days ago, USDOT rejected WSDOT’s recommendation to unwind the exclusion of non-minority women-owned DBEs from COA Goals, meaning women-owned DBEs in Washington remain excluded from DBE COA participation goals until September 2020.

As background, the DBE program is a program created by Congress with the goal of increasing women and minority-owned business participation in federally-funded transportation contracting. To withstand constitutional scrutiny, each state must tailor its program to the specific discrimination found to exist in that state.[2] To that end, every three years, WSDOT must conduct a “Disparity Study,” aimed at statistically measuring the “discrimination” in the marketplace.

Ms. Perka may be contacted at ellie.perka@acslawyers.com



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