Are WSDOT's contracts fairly awarded? Study aims to find answer

Vendors, contractors, industry representatives and others who have experience with transportation-related contracts are invited to participate in a new disparity study that will help determine whether Washington State Department of Transportation’s (WSDOT) contracting activities are fair and equitable for all.

WSDOT is holding a series of meetings across the state next month to share information about the disparity study and to gather personal accounts of experience with the agency’s contracting and Disadvantaged Business Enterprise (DBE) program. The DBE program helps socially and economically disadvantaged businesses compete for government contracts on a level playing field.

WSDOT’s disparity study, which is being conducted by an independent consultant, includes an analysis of the agency’s contracting activities. It will determine if discrimination is occurring in WSDOT-administered contracts related to state transportation projects, including highways, transit and aviation.

Discussions will focus on WSDOT’s contracting and implementation of the federal DBE Program, and whether there is equality in opportunities for obtaining transportation-related contracts, starting and expanding businesses and fair access to financing, insurance and bonding. Feedback regarding WSDOT’s outreach efforts and assistance programs for small, woman- and minority-owned businesses is also encouraged. Comments received will become part of the public record for the disparity study. All meetings will be held from 5:30 to 9 p.m. Dates and locations are as follows:

Seattle — Weds., Feb. 15, WSDOT Northwest Region Headquarters Cafeteria, 15700 Dayton Ave. N.

Spokane — Thurs., Feb. 16, WSDOT Eastern Region Headquarters, 2714 N. Mayfair St.

Yakima — Tues., Feb. 21, Yakima Valley Opportunities Industrialization Center – Training Center, 815 Fruitvale Blvd.

Vancouver — Weds., Feb. 22, Clark College Valley Community College, Penguin Union Building, Fireside Lounge, 1933 Fort Vancouver Way

Seattle — Thurs., Feb. 23, South Seattle Community College – Georgetown Campus, Building C, 6737 Corson Ave. S.

Information from the disparity study will assist WSDOT in implementing the federal DBE Program and meeting federal-financial aid requirements.

To ensure adequate materials are available, registration is required for these events. To register, please e-mail with your first and last name and indicate which event you will be attending. You may also call toll free, 1-888-259-9143, or (360) 705-7084 to register. WSDOT will also accept written comments regarding your experiences in the State of Washington transportation contracting industry. To submit a written comment, email or write Disparity Study, WSDOT, Office of Equal Opportunity, P.O. Box 47314, Olympia, WA 98504-7314.