Wednesday, April 6, 2011

Federal Judge Upholds Caltrans Program To Support Minority And Women-Owned Businesses

Sacramento – In a victory for the California Department of Transportation
(Caltrans), a U.S. District Court judge affirmed that Caltrans’
Disadvantaged Business Enterprises (DBE) Program was “clearly
constitutional” in a recent ruling.

Caltrans implements a DBE Program as a condition of receiving $3 billion in
federal transportation funding annually.  The program ensures a level
playing field for disadvantaged and small businesses competing for public

“This decision affirms that Caltrans' efforts to level the playing field
are constitutionally sound and will ensure that billions of dollars in
federal transportation funds continue flowing to California,” said Caltrans
Director Cindy McKim. “We will continue to reach out to disadvantaged
businesses and hope our program serves as a model for other states to

In 2005, the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals provided new guidance to states
on implementation of DBE programs (Western States Paving vs. Washington
State Department of Transportation). In response, Caltrans conducted a
study to identify the existence and scope of discrimination, if any, in the
highway transportation contracting industry in California.

The study was completed in 2007 and identified significant disparities in
contract dollars awarded to African-American, Asian Pacific- American,
Native American, and women-owned firms. To address those disparities,
Caltrans proposed the use of both race-neutral and race-conscious means in
its contracting programs. In 2009, the Federal Highway Administration
(FHWA) approved the proposal, which includes an overall goal of 13.5
percent DBE involvement.

In June 2009, the Pacific Legal Foundation filed its complaint in federal
court on behalf of Associated General Contractors of San Diego, asking the
court to declare Caltrans’ DBE Program unconstitutional and order it
halted. On March 23, 2011, Judge Mendez determined that the program
satisfied constitutional requirements and denied the plaintiff’s request.

The photo to the right has to do with the link above at the Pacific Legal Foundation which filed the lawsuit against Caltrans.  I took this picture in 100 degree heat in 2009 along Interstate 5 somewhere  between Santa Nella and route 580.

The signs on I 5 go for miles but I had to get a picture the 4th or 5th time I saw one with green stuff in the background.   


  1. It seems wrong to use race or gender as a basis for award of a contract.

  2. Greg I know. That's why this program was put into place. It seemed that only 1 race and gender were getting the contracts.


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