New Report: Minority-Owned Businesses Left Out of Transport Stimulus

Women and minorities are getting shortchanged in the chase for transportation stimulus contracts, according to a report released today by the Transportation Equity Network (TEN) and Good Jobs First.

cityroom_20090914_ahill_85420_Mino_large.png(Photo: WBEZ)

Using federal procurement data -- which, the two advocacy groups acknowledged, represents just a slice of the White House's economic recovery pie -- the report found that women- and minority-owned business have been allocated just 10.3 percent of transportation stimulus funds.

As the stimulus' benefits for the most disadvantaged Americans become a key concern in Washington, getting attention from the Congressional Black Caucus and the Transportation Secretary, the conclusions of today's report could resonate during the crafting of the Obama administration's next job-creation effort.

"In the few places where our affiliates were able to get some data, it seems that minorities and women are getting fewer jobs and fewer work hours," TEN executive director Laura Barrett told reporters.

"It seems that instead of offering a hand up to minority and women contractors, [the stimulus law] is actually continuing the bad patterns of segregation that have plagued federal contracts for years."

The report includes several anecdotal reports of state DOTs failing to meet their goals for minority hiring under the stimulus law. Among the local backlashes: African-American contractors filed a complaint in August against three Kansas localities, alleging they were shortchanged on stimulus work, and several California minority-owned businesses organized a protest in July.

Later in the summer, the U.S. DOT announced a $20 million infusion to help Disadvantaged Business Enterprises, a designation that includes many minority contractors, participate in transportation stimulus projects.