Sending Office: Honorable Gwen Moore
Deadline extended: Now COB, Wednesday February 6, 2019
Current cosponsors: Gregory Meeks, Henry C. “Hank” Johnson, Al Lawson, Donald Payne Jr. , Betty McCollum, Yvette D. Clarke, Collin Peterson, Earl Blumenauer, Ilhan Omar, Nydia M. Velázquez, Debbie Dingell, Rashida Tlaib, Bennie Thompson, Andre
Carson, Jesús G. “Chuy” García, Sanford D. Bishop, David Scott, and Jan Schakowsky
Please join us in sending a letter urging the Chairman of the House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee to ensure that any infrastructure package considered by the Committee includes provisions to ensure that businesses that have been historically
discriminated against have the opportunity to compete and win work on projects funded through such a proposal. The letter also asks the committee to make sure any hearings on an infrastructure package includes the voices and views of minority contractors.
Transportation projects mean jobs and businesses for communities across our nation. However, Congress has long recognized that certain businesses, especially small and disadvantaged enterprises owned by minorities and women, have faced obstacles to competing
for and winning such business. And despite progress, too many qualified minority businesses are still being frustrated in their attempts to win work on federally funded transportation projects, an outcome that we hope can be avoided as work begins on a robust
national infrastructure package. These contractors continue to face numerous obstacles, including lack of guidance, training, and enforcement regarding participation requirements by federal and state officials overseeing infrastructure funds.
For questions or to sign on, please contact Chris Goldson in Congresswoman Moore’s office at Chris.firstname.lastname@example.org. The deadline for signers is COB, Wednesday, February 6, 2019.
Gwen Moore Gregory Meeks
MEMBER OF CONGRESS MEMBER OF CONGRESS
Dear Chairman DeFazio,
As you put together an infrastructure package, we write to urge you to take steps to ensure that minority contractors can fully participate in all projects funded by any proposal in the 116th Congress. We urge the inclusion of funding and provisions
in any such proposal that help facilitate the certification of these contractors as well as to support their ability to fairly compete and win work. Additionally, we urge you to ensure that all hearings on an infrastructure package in the 116th
Congress include the voices and viewpoints of minority contractors who can testify to the ongoing challenges they face in competing for and winning work on federally funded infrastructure projects.
Transportation projects mean jobs and businesses for communities across our nation and ensuring that all businesses in our communities, including small and disadvantaged concerns owned businesses, must remain a priority. Unfortunately, too often, the promises
provided by federal law and regulations regarding minority contractor participation in federally funded infrastructure projects fall well short of the reality. Despite some successes, many states are still struggling to meet participation goals and requirements
with their regular federal infrastructure funding, when such goals and requirements are attached. What these challenges do point out is the need for lawmakers to continue to make forceful efforts to attack the historically and ongoing inequality when it comes
to federal infrastructure contracting.
I know you agree with us that a new infrastructure package must benefit all stakeholders, including minority contractors. Therefore, including the voices of minority contractors in the development of an infrastructure package, including hearings on such
a package, is a necessary first step. Hearing from these stakeholders will allow you to better understand existing gaps in federal and state participation requirements and help get to the bottom of the most frequent complaints and problems. And the message
you will most likely hear is that the Department of Transportation (DOT) needs to improve the effectiveness and oversight of its Disadvantaged Business Enterprise (DBE) program, including better enforcement.
The DOT’s implementation of its DBE programs has been the subject of numerous reports by its Office of Inspector General (IG), highlighting problems with the Department’s various DBE programs including at the Federal Aviation Administration. One of the
most glaring conclusions from the past reports is the IG’s conclusion that“[t]he Department does not provide effective program management for the multibillion-dollar DBE program.” Before we pour billions more of federal transportation dollars through DOT to
the states as a part of an infrastructure package or surface transportation reauthorization, Congress should listen to, and then appropriately respond to, the needs and concerns of stakeholders, including minority contractors and the IG. And any such package
should incorporate their ideas about how to best construct a proposal to help ensure that all communities truly benefit and have a fair and equal opportunity to compete for the thousands of contracts and subcontracts that are likely to flow from that package.
We also know that without pressure from Congress, long overdue but needed improvement will not occur and these business and our communities will find themselves remaining on the sidelines, even as billions in new funding flow to communities nationwide.
Again, as you move forward on constructing the infrastructure package that our nation needs, we must consider and address the needs of these qualified but often overlooked businesses. The fact is that despite repeated affirmation by Congress, some states
still make no or limited efforts to help certified firms obtain DBE work on federally funded projects and in others, most certified DBEs never win any business should concern and trouble us as policymakers.
Lastly, one step such legislation can take is to make clear that all infrastructure agencies have a responsibility for implementing and enforcing rules, guidance, and federal laws which require equal employment and labor opportunities in federal contracting
such as Executive Order 11246 (Equal Employment Opportunity). That E.O. requires agencies to include certain nondiscrimination and equal employment opportunity provisions in federal contracts, including federally assisted construction contracts. Unfortunately,
we are concerned that this Administration’s weak record and blatant attempts to roll back important protections enshrined in federal contracting law and regulations will have a disparate impact on minority communities and contractors.
There is no reason why any package to invest in our infrastructure in order to foster a safe and modern transportation system should not also help small businesses like yours. These are not conflicting goals; it actually makes good and sound economic and
As Members of Congress who care deeply about ending unequal access to federal contracts and addressing our nation’s glaring infrastructure needs, we hope you understand the need to make sure both goals are met in any infrastructure package and will work
with us to achieve them.
e-Dear Colleague version 2.0