The Chicago Transit Board today voted to accept a variety of modifications to the procedures outlined in its Disadvantaged Business Enterprise (DBE) Program. Already holding one of the highest levels of DBE participation among U.S. transit agencies, the proposed changes conform to new federal regulations and improve on the procedures in the CTA's existing DBE Program.
The changes include a more narrowly tailored goal-setting process, rules specifying the use of good faith efforts and prompt payment enforcement, and modifications to the certification process itself.
Since 1988, the CTA has established an overall goal of 30% DBE participation for CTA contracts. Over the last eleven years, the CTA has met this goal by achieving, on average, 32% participation. Although the new federal guidelines encourage transit agencies to reach a 10% goal, the CTA will continue to strive for a level higher than any other U.S. transit agency: 30% participation.
Businesses that are eligible for DBE certification are those that have at least 51% ownership by one or more individuals who are both socially and economically disadvantaged. As of January 2000, there were 675 companies certified by the CTA's DBE Program.
CTA Chairman Valerie B. Jarrett said, "The CTA recognizes its responsibility to the diverse communities we serve and is deeply committed to inclusion and outreach. By working in and with the many communities of Chicagoland, the CTA will continue to encourage a high level of DBE participation. At the same time, we pledge to remain vigilant in re-examining our program to make sure that it fairly utilizes our public funds."
?An active DBE Program that contributes to a diverse workforce is vital to the ongoing development of the CTA. We plan on continuing our policy of non-discrimination by working in and with the people of Chicago and the 38 surrounding communities that comprise our service area," said CTA President Frank Kruesi. He added, "The CTA takes its commitment to maintain a fair and reasonable DBE Program very seriously.
Federal regulations stress the use of race-neutral measures, such as outreach to assistance agencies, technical assistance, and procurement modifications, in order to reach DBE goals. These methods have been and will continue to be utilized at the CTA. In addition to this overall approach, contract-specific goals based on the type of industry, the availability of certified DBEs, and the subcontracting opportunities available will be set for each contract.
Kruesi added, "With Illinois FIRST and the FTA's recently announced intent to participate in a Full Funding Grant Agreement for the reconstruction of the Douglas Branch of the Blue Line, we are planning an intensive rebuilding campaign at the CTA. We are absolutely committed to go further in our efforts to meet and exceed DBE goals over the next five years."
As a recipient of U.S. Department of Transportation funds, the CTA is subject to regulations governing DBE requirements. Federal transit law adopted in 1998 required transit agencies to adopt a new DBE program. The program is now subject to approval by the U.S. Department of Transportation.###