Caltrans FTA Disparity Study
Table of Contents
Beginning in April 2022, the California Department of Transportation (Caltrans) has commissioned BBC Research & Consulting (BBC) to conduct a disparity study to assess whether minority- and woman-owned businesses face any barriers as part of Caltrans’ contracting processes. Information from the study will help Caltrans assess its efforts to encourage the participation of minority- and woman-owned businesses in local contracts and help inform any refinements that Caltrans might make to its implementation of the Federal Disadvantaged Business Enterprise (DBE) Program.
Study analyses. The disparity study will focus on professional services and goods and non-professional services contracts and procurements that the Caltrans awarded between October 1st, 2017 through September 30th, 2020. The core purpose of the disparity study will be to examine whether there are any disparities between:
- The percentage of contract dollars Caltrans spent with minority- and woman-owned businesses during the study period (utilization); and
- The percentage of contract dollars that minority- and woman-owned businesses might be expected to receive based on their availability to perform specific types and sizes of Caltrans contracts (availability).
The study will also examine other qualitative and quantitative information related to:
- Legal considerations surrounding the implementation of the Federal DBE Program;
- Marketplace conditions throughout California for minorities; women; and minority- and woman-owned businesses;
- Contracting policies and business assistance programs that Caltrans currently has in place; and
- Program measures for the agency to consider implementing to further encourage minority- and woman-owned business participation in its work.
Study schedule: BBC initiated the disparity study in April 2022 and will complete the study at the end of August 2022 (see study schedule).
Study progress: Caltrans will provide regular updates about BBC’s progress on the disparity study throughout its course. Please check back periodically for those updates.
Project initiation: Caltrans and BBC initiated the disparity study in April 2022 with a series of meetings with various Caltrans departments and representatives. BBC met with Caltrans to introduce the study, answer questions, and begin the process of understanding contracting and vendor data that Caltrans maintains (see initial presentation)..
Data collection: BBC has begun working with Caltrans to collect data on contracts and procurements Caltrans awarded during the study period as well as information about the vendors that participated in that work.
Next steps: BBC will engage in the following disparity study tasks in the coming months:
- Community meetings: The project team will conduct five virtual community meetings with California residents and business owners in May and June 2022. During the community meetings, BBC will present information about the disparity study, answer any questions, and solicit participants for any verbal or written testimony that they would like to share regarding their experiences working in the local marketplace. Please participate and make sure your insights are included as part of the study process.
- Data collection: The project team will continue to work with Caltrans to collect data on contracts and procurements the agency awarded during the study period and the vendors that participated in that work.
- Data analysis: BBC will begin the data analysis process by compiling data it receives from Caltrans and assessing the subindustries that account for the majority of Caltrans contracting and procurement as well as the geographical area that accounts for the vast majority of vendors that compete for that work (i.e., relevant geographic market area, or RGMA).
- Availability surveys: The project team will begin conducting availability surveys with businesses in the RGMA that perform work that is relevant to Caltrans contracting and procurement. If we contact your business, please participate in the survey process to help ensure an accurate and comprehensive survey process!
- In-depth interviews: The study team will begin conducting in-depth interviews with business owners and trade association representatives throughout the local marketplace. The interviews will provide the study team with detailed information about marketplace conditions related to starting a business, trying to grow a business, working with local public agencies, and a variety of other topics. If we contact your business, please participate in the interview process to help ensure an accurate and comprehensive study.
The project team for the Caltrans Disparity Study includes five firms that possess expertise directly relevant to conducting the study in a manner that meets the highest industry and legal standards.
BBC Research & Consulting (BBC): BBC, which will serve as the prime consultant for the study, is a 52-year-old economic and diversity research firm based in Denver, Colorado. The firm has completed over 130 disparity studies for states, cities, transportation agencies, and other government organizations all across the country. BBC is also considered a national expert in helping organizations develop and refine their implementations of small and diverse business programs. The firm has provided expert testimony related to disparity studies and diverse business programs on several different occasions, most recently as part of the successful defense of the Caltrans’s implementation of the Federal Disadvantaged Business Enterprise Program.
Davis Research: Since its inception in 1970, Davis Research has grown to be one of the leading survey data collection firms in the nation. The firm consistently delivers sophisticated telephone and web-based surveys with seamless programming, supremely qualified surveyors, and a customized look and feel. In addition, it offers professional computer-aided telephone interviewing services from its industry-best call centers. Davis Research’s success has come from partnering with its clients to deliver custom survey solutions that best answer research questions. For INDOT’s disparity study, Davis Research will be responsible for programming and fielding surveys with businesses in the local marketplace in connection with the availability and utilization analyses.
Luster National: Luster has a proven and successful 32-year track record spanning a broad spectrum of professional services in the public infrastructure sector that includes program, project, and construction management; stakeholder engagement; program development; environmental compliance; diversity management; and workforce development. Luster also specializes in expanding opportunities for businesses interested in getting involved in the California government contracting industry. Luster’s expertise in opportunity expansion includes training programs, community engagement, policy development, and diversity program administration. Luster worked with BBC to help conduct the 2019 Caltrans FTA Disparity Study and the 2021 Caltrans FHWA Disparity Study.
GCAP Services (GCAP) : GCAP Services has developed and conducted training programs for DBE-related issues, including both live and on-line training workshops for DBE Program requirements following Western States Paving Company v. Washington State DOT. Edward Salcedo, President of GCAP is actively involved in various projects that require intimate understanding of the Federal DBE Program and the effectiveness of program measures.
Rosales Business Partners LLC (RBP) : RBP is a legal and policy firm specializing in public law and representing public agencies. Founded in 2009, the firm offers clients a multi-disciplinary, strategic approach to problem solving in a variety of practice areas, particularly public contracting and the creation of public policy. RBP has a national reputation for its extensive experience in the disparity study field, including the legal defense of minority- and woman-owned business programs in the Ninth Circuit. The firm has recently worked with BBC on disparity studies for the San Francisco Municipal Transportation Authority and the San Jose International Airport as well as on supportive services engagements with the City of Boston and the Commonwealth of Virginia.
The project team is committed to engaging the public meaningfully throughout the course of the Caltrans Disparity Study. BBC will host various events to help the public understand the purpose of the study and to offer opportunities for the public to submit testimony and comments about their experiences working in the local marketplace and with Caltrans and local agencies. The events schedule will be updated regularly. Please check back periodically for those updates.
Community meetings: In partnership with Caltrans, BBC is hosting five community meetings during which the project team will give a presentation describing the disparity study, including its purpose, methodology, and the study schedule.
Public meeting schedule:
- Monday June 6, from 12 – 1:30 pm
- Thursday June 9, from 6 – 7:30pm
- Friday June 10, from 12 – 1:30 pm
- Tuesday June 14, from 6 – 7:30 pm
- Thursday June 16, from 12 – 1:30 pm
Sessions will be conducted via Zoom with a telephone option; zoom/call-in information will be provided upon registering for a public meeting.
Any testimony we receive during the meetings will be treated confidentially. They will be integrated as part of the project team’s analyses of local marketplace conditions without identifying you as the source. Please participate and make sure your insights are included as part of the study process, and feel free to share the community meetings flyer.
Frequently Asked Questions
Q. What is a Disparity Study?
A disparity study examines whether there are differences between:
- The percentage of dollars that minority- and woman-owned businesses received on an organization’s prime contracts and subcontracts during a particular time period (utilization); and
- The percentage of dollars that those businesses would be expected to receive based on their availability to perform on the organization’s prime contracts and subcontracts (availability).
The comparison between the participation and availability of minority- and woman-owned businesses in an organization’s contracting is referred to as a disparity analysis. In addition to utilization, availability, and disparity analyses, disparity studies typically examine other information about:
- Legal considerations surrounding the implementation of minority- and woman-owned business programs;
- Conditions in the local marketplace for minorities, women, and minority- and woman-owned businesses;
- Contracting practices and business assistance programs that the organization currently has in place; and
- Potential program measures for consideration as part of the organization’s implementation of minority- and woman-owned business programs.
Q. When will the disparity study be completed?
The study will be completed in August 2022.
Q. What types of contracts are being studied?
The disparity study will examine prime contracts and subcontracts that Caltrans and its subrecipient local transit agencies awarded from October 1, 2017, to September 30, 2020. The study will examine professional services and goods and non-professional services contracts and procurements.
Q. What will Caltrans do with information from the disparity study?
Information that the project team collects as a part of the disparity study will help inform Caltrans’ implementation of the Federal Disadvantaged Business Enterprise Program. Among other information, the disparity study will provide:
- An independent, objective review of minority- and woman-owned business participation in Caltrans prime contracts and subcontracts.
- Information that is useful for setting overall annual aspirational goals for the participation of minority- and woman-owned businesses in Caltrans contracting and procurement; and
- Insights about how Caltrans might improve contracting for local businesses and how it could better encourage the participation of minority- and woman-owned businesses in the future.
Q. Will the results of disparity study be made public?
Yes, the results of the disparity study will be made public at the end of the process.
Q. How can I participate in the disparity study process?
There are several ways in which you can participate in the California Department of Transportation Disparity Study:
- Share your experiences working in the local marketplace or with Caltrans by emailing the project team directly at CaltransDisparity@bbcresearch.com.
- Join us for a community meeting where you can learn more about the disparity study process, ask questions, and submit testimony about your experiences working in the marketplace.
- Respond to our requests to complete an availability survey. If you represent a business working in the local marketplace, you may be contacted as a part of the availability survey process. If you are contacted, please help the project team by participating!
- Contact us if you have any unanswered questions about the study.
Caltrans will provide access to relevant disparity study notes, presentations, and reports below. Please check back periodically for updated documents throughout the course of the study.
Project initiation presentation: Caltrans and BBC initiated the disparity study in April 2022 with a series of meetings with various Caltrans departments and representatives. BBC met with Caltrans to introduce the study, answer questions, and begin the process of understanding contracting and vendor data that Caltrans maintains (see initial presentation).
Please submit any comments that you may have about your experiences working in the local marketplace, working with Caltrans, or about the disparity study. Topic areas could include:
- Conditions in the local marketplace, including any potential barriers that businesses face in being successful or growing;
- Contracting opportunities with Caltrans or other government organizations;
- Business assistance programs that Caltrans or other government organizations currently use;
- Any recommendations for additional business assistance programs that Caltrans could consider implementing; or
- The Caltrans Disparity Study itself.
Your comments will be treated confidentially. They will be integrated as part of the project team’s analyses of local marketplace conditions without identifying you as the source.
E-mail your confidential comments directly to the project team at CaltransDisparity@bbcresearch.com.
If you have any questions regarding the disparity study, please contact one of the following individuals:
Federal Transit Policies and Reporting
Division of Rail & Mass Transportation
California Department of Transportation (Caltrans)
Alternatively, you can contact a member of the project team directly:
BBC Research & Consulting
BBC Research & Consulting
You can also e-mail your questions directly to the project team at CaltransDisparity@bbcresearch.com.