The Ohio Department of Transportation (ODOT) is responsible for developing and maintaining all state and federal roadways in the state of Ohio with the exception of the Ohio Turnpike. ODOT is organized into 12 districts throughout the state in order to facilitate regional development. Because ODOT receives funds from the United States Department of Transportation (USDOT) for certain contract opportunities, it must implement the Federal Disadvantaged Business Enterprise (DBE) Program. The DBE Program is designed to address any potential discrimination against DBEs in the award and administration of USDOT-funded contracts.
Ohio Governor John Kasich, who is authorized with oversight of ODOT by state law, strongly believes that every person should have fair and equal access to opportunities for success and prosperity. Early in his first term, the governor recognized that Ohio was falling short of this principle in several areas. So he looked to the Ohio Department of Transportation, the state’s largest provider of heavy highway construction contracts, to help raise the standard.
The governor asked ODOT Director Jerry Wray to find ways to strengthen the department's approach to diversity, and to expand access and opportunities both internally and externally for all individuals – especially Ohio’s small, minority and disadvantaged businesses. Responding to that request, ODOT set an aggressive agenda that has produced a growing series of achievements.
Suspecting disparity on the contracts it engages, the Ohio Department of Transportation commissioned a study to review how the agency’s contractors and consultants do business. In order to identify and understand the barriers that separate qualified small and disadvantaged businesses from highway construction and engineering contracting opportunities, ODOT hired BBC Research & Consulting and Exstare Federal Services Group to conduct the study.
The disparity study began in February 2015, and analyzed 22,000 contracts awarded between January 1, 2010, and December 31, 2014. The final report thoroughly examines a breadth of issues related to small and disadvantaged businesses, including contractor availability and utilization; training and education; access to capital, bonding and insurance; and procurement policies and practices, among other issues. Additionally, this study will help ODOT establish its federally mandated DBE goals for 2017 through 2019.