The Illinois Tollway is conducting an availability and disparity study for its Disadvantaged Business Enterprise (DBE) Program for construction and related professional services contracts. The study seeks to ensure that disadvantaged, minority-owned business enterprise and woman-owned business enterprise firms have equal access to the Tollway’s contracting opportunities and that the Tollway’s current DBE Program remains legally defensible and administratively successful.
An availability and disparity study involves compilation of evidence to determine whether the Illinois Tollway may continue to implement race- and gender-conscious contracting remedies and, if so, how to ensure its program remains narrowly tailored. The study will determine the Illinois Tollway’s utilization of D/M/WBEs and the availability of D/M/WBEs on construction and related professional services contracts, as a percentage of all firms in the Tollway’s market area and relevant industries. The study will analyze whether there are disparities, if any, between the availability of D/M/WBEs and their utilization on the Tollway’s construction and related professional services contracts and related subcontracts, and throughout the Chicago area and Illinois construction economy as a whole.
The study will further examine factors necessary for entrepreneurial success, such as access to business capital, bonding, networks, suppliers, etc. It will also gather anecdotal evidence of any continuing effects of past or present race and sex discrimination, and the impact of the DBE Program. Another important component is a review of the Tollway’s current DBE Program and recommendations for future initiatives and enhancements.
The contract for this study has been awarded to Colette Holt & Associates (CHA), a nationally recognized expert team on disparity studies and D/M/WBE programs. The firm has worked with many agencies in the state of Illinois for decades, including conducting studies for Tollway, the City of Chicago, Cook County, CTA, Metra, Pace and the state of Illinois. CHA is partnering Sandi Llano & Associates, Inc., and L. Binder, Inc., both certified firms headed by recognized and respected leaders in the Chicago area on business diversity programs.
How can you be involved? The participation of stakeholders and business owners is critical to the study’s outcomes in two important ways.
First, business owners will be part of the quantitative data collection element of the study. The information generated from these data collection methods will be an important component of the analysis of whether the DBE Program remains narrowly tailored. The study team will contact businesses to confirm information on specific contracts and/or to receive additional contract information that is currently not available or accessible to the Tollway. Like most government agencies, the Illinois Tollway has not collected all of the type of specialized contracting records necessary for the study, so the consultant must rely on prime firms to supplement missing data. This information is critical to developing an accurate analysis of the utilization of D/M/WBEs on Illinois Tollway projects. With the support and assistance of business owners, the study will present a complete picture of the Tollway’s contracting activities. Some firms will be contacted to provide such data. CHA will work with the firms to make the process as easy as possible.
Second, interested persons can be part of the process for anecdotal data collection through several channels. CHA will conduct small group interviews of business owners and representatives from assist agencies and industry trade groups. These sessions are designed for participants to share experiences and insights about the construction marketplace and with the Illinois Tollway’s DBE Program. It is very important that stakeholder organizations with an interest in the Tollway’s DBE Program and contracting activities help to distribute information to their members, so that all firms can participate. To learn about sessions pertinent to your business or organization, please email CHA at firstname.lastname@example.org.
We will also administer an electronic survey to gather additional information about the marketplace and the DBE Program. As with the interviews, it is important that stakeholder groups urge their members to participate.
We also welcome written submissions or other evidence, which can be submitted through the dedicated study email address.
The Tollway is conducting two Availability and Disparity Studies simultaneously. If you are interested in the BEP Goods and Services study, please follow this link: tollwaybep.disparity-study.com