The group’s letter to the U.S. Secretary of Transportation cites substantial evidence of past and continuing discrimination against racial and ethnic minority owned, and socially and economically disadvantaged businesses and contractors.
“It is incumbent upon the Department of Transportation to remove barriers to minority participation in the contracting process, and the agency has simply failed in this regard,” said Johnson, D-Oklahoma City. “The agency lacks an effective, enforceable non-discrimination program. In order to genuinely level the playing field, ODOT must make a firm commitment to utilizing minority businesses.”
“ODOT’s contracting process has long been dominated by a business-as-usual attitude, which makes it difficult for minority businesses to successfully participate,” Johnson said. “It’s time for us to establish accountability for what has been a continuing pattern of failure on the part of ODOT to utilize minority contractors. The agency must ensure fairness in the process by researching and adopting measures to improve minority access in contracting.”
Rep. Shumate said he hoped the lawmakers and ODOT could reach common ground on the issue.
“I am disappointed with the lack of transparency in ODOT’s process for awarding contracts,” said Shumate, D-Tulsa. “It is my hope that we can find common ground on this issue and ultimately develop a system that meets compliance standards.”