Based on various reports circulating within the stakeholder community, ARTBA and other industry groups are awaiting an imminent announcement by the U.S. Department of Transportation (U.S. DOT) of its pending revisions to the Disadvantaged Business Enterprise (DBE) program rule. Further reports indicate the department has completed this document and it has begun to circulate unofficially before formal publication in “The Federal Register.”
The current DBE rulemaking process began when U.S. DOT published 75 pages of proposed changes to the rule in September 2012. ARTBA members have been most concerned about possible new requirements for prime contractors to submit their DBE plans or good faith effort documentation with their bids, increased sanctions on prime contractors deemed to have improperly replaced DBE subcontractors during a project, abolition of the “regular-dealer” designation for DBE firms, and changes in the goal-setting process.
ARTBA submitted 16 pages of detailed comments to U.S. DOT in December of 2012, as well as 21 pages of additional comments in December 2013 when the department reopened its comment docket for this issue. The latter submission included results of a survey coordinated by ARTBA showing many contractors expected the proposed DBE program changes to add costs and decrease competition on federal-aid projects. A representative of ARTBA, as well as those from several of its chapters and members, also made presentations at a December 5, 2013, listening session with senior agency officials during the second comment period.
With the original proposal encompassing about 30 different program changes, the department has likely been working through numerous scenarios and variables in developing a final rule over the past several months. ARTBA staff is monitoring this process on a daily basis and will report any developments immediately. For more information, please contact Rich Juliano or Nick Goldstein.