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Metro Disparity Study

Metro has retained BBC Research & Consulting (BBC) to conduct a 12-month Disparity Study (Study).   The Study began in November 2016 and a draft report is expected to be released in the fall of 2017, followed by a public comment period to receive input from stakeholders on the Study results.  The final report will be submitted to the Metro Board of Directors before the end of the year.

The Study will:

  • Focus on many aspects of the Disadvantaged Business Enterprise (DBE) program and seeks to identify the percentage of relevant contract dollars Metro awarded to minority-owned and woman-owned firms during a five year Study period from January 1, 2011 through December 31, 2015.
  • Determine 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 contracts that Metro typically awards.
  • Examine the local market conditions, contracting policies, and assist Metro in implementing the federal DBE program in a legally-defensible manner.
  • Satisfy the legal standards established by the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals in Western States Paving Co., Inc. v. Washington State Department of Transportation, 407 F. 3d 983 (9th Cir. 2005) and guidance from the U.S. Department of Transportation/Federal Transit Administration (FTA) concerning the implementation of federal DBE contracting programs.
  • Provide availability and disparity analysis for consideration in the establishment of Metro’s overall DBE goal.

COMPONENTS OF THE STUDY

The Study will include a comprehensive analysis of:

  • The percentage of total transportation-related construction; architecture and engineering; professional services; goods; and other services contract dollars that minority- and woman-owned businesses received on prime contracts and subcontracts between January 1, 2011 through December 31, 2015 (referred to as utilization );
  • The percentage of dollars that those businesses would be expected to receive based on their availability to perform work on such prime contracts and subcontracts (referred to as availability );
  • Any differences between the participation of minority- and woman-owned businesses in relevant contracts and the availability of those businesses to perform that work (referred to as disparities);
  • Legal considerations surrounding implementation of the federal DBE program;
  • Marketplace conditions for minorities, women, and minority- and woman-owned businesses;
  • Contracting practices and assistance programs that Metro currently has in place; and
  • Potential program measures that Metro could consider implementing as part of its implementation of the federal DBE program or other small business programs.

BBC’s study team is comprised of seven firms that, considered together, possess decades of experience related to conducting disparity and availability studies:

  • BBC Research & Consulting (BBC) (prime consultant);
  • Holland & Knight, LLP;
  • Customer Research International (CRI);
  • GCAP Services;
  • PDA Consulting Group;
  • Zann & Associates; and
  • Bohica Advisors.

BBC study team organization chart


  • BBC Research & Consulting

BBC is considered the premier disparity study firm in the nation. BBC is a national expert in conducting disparity studies and in helping agencies implement the federal DBE program and other minority- and woman-owned business programs. BBC has completed nearly 80 disparity studies for cities, states, government agencies, and other entities all across the country. BBC has provided expert testimony related to disparity studies, minority- and woman-owned business programs, and the Federal DBE Program on several different occasions, most recently as part of the successful defense of the California Department of Transportation’s (Caltrans’) implementation of the Federal DBE Program—which was based in large part on a 2007 BBC disparity study—in Associated General Contractors of America, San Diego Chapter v. California Department of Transportation, et al.


  • Holland & Knight, LLP

Holland & Knight is a multi‐national law firm and has participated in more than 40 disparity studies with BBC. Holland & Knight also provided substantial litigation support to Caltrans in the agency’s recent defense of its implementation of the Federal DBE program. BBC employs Holland & Knight to develop the legal analysis and framework on disparity studies and to consult on legal issues. Holland & Knight also has extensive experience conducting in‐depth anecdotal interviews; collecting and analyzing anecdotal evidence; and assessing potential DBE program measures.


  • GCAP Services

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 Salsado, President of GCAP is actively involved in various projects that require intimate understanding of the Federal DBE Program and the effectiveness of program measures.


  • PDA Consulting Group

PDA Consulting will lead the qualitative research for the project including in-depth interviews with business leaders and assisting with public forums. Pamela Penn, President of PDA has more than 30 years of experience designing, managing, and implementing compliance and outreach for community benefits programs, including contract compliance monitoring. As an expert in the contract compliance arena, she has overseen program development and administration of targeted outreach programs geared toward small businesses; minority- and woman-owned businesses; and DBEs. She has served as Contract Compliance Administrator and Manager of Contract Compliance for the Los Angeles County Transportation Commission. She was responsible for designing and implementing the agency’s minority- and woman-owned business program and for overseeing program management.


  • Customer Research International (CRI)

CRI is a leading provider of full-service market research services throughout the United States and abroad. CRI will conduct the telephone availability and utilization calls for the disparity study. CRI has worked with BBC on more than 25 disparity studies.


  • Zann & Associates

Zann & Associates will serve as a Diversity Expert on the availability and disparity study. Zann & Associates was establish in 1993 by Suzanne Arkle and has been instrumental in developing economic opportunity initiatives; equal employment opportunity programs; community and public outreach strategies; and community stakeholder analyses for major public and private projects. Ms. Arkle is an expert in workforce development and has helped government agencies and private companies develop and implement DBE, small business enterprise, and workforce programs to increase the participation of minority- and woman- owned businesses as well as other small businesses in transportation-related contracting.


  • Bohica Advisors

Bohica will provide guidance on potential programs and procedures for Metro and assist with the anecdotal interview process. Bohica staff has extensive experience in transportation, infrastructure development, and government relations. From 2008 until 2014, Thomas Umberg, President of Bohica was a board member, vice-chair and chair of the California High Speed Rail Authority. In that capacity he was a leading advocate for small, disadvantaged, and minority business participation in the project to build a high speed rail system extending from Northern to Southern California. In 2012, Mr. Umberg established Bohica Advisors LLC to provide advice and support concerning transportation projects.


Stakeholder input is critical to the success of the Study.  Metro and the BBC Study team seek input from members of the community, including trade associations, businesses, and other organizations.

There are several ways in which you can participate:

  • Share your experiences working in the local marketplace by submitting  written testimony to MetroDisparityStudy@bbcresearch.com , to be included in the  Study.  All written or verbal testimony will be kept anonymous, except in the unlikely event that it is required during litigation. Topics for testimony may include:

-   Race- or gender-based discrimination
-   Barriers to success
-   Payment issues
-   Private or public sector work
-   Prime contractor or subcontractor work
-   Working with Metro

  • Join us for a public meeting where you can learn more about the disparity study process, submit written or verbal testimony, and ask questions. Participating in the public hearing process and other forums to share and collect information that will be considered in the Study.  Please visit the Public Meeting tab to find out when Metro and the BBC Study team will be conducting a public meeting.
  • Respond to Metro and the BBC Study team’s request to complete a survey , which will begin taking place in March 2017. If you are a business owner in the Los Angeles area, you may be contacted as a part of the utilization or availability survey process. If you are contacted for a survey, please help the study team by responding to the request in a timely manner.

Questions regarding the Study and participation through verbal, written testimony or by survey can be forwarded to the MetroDisparityStudy@bbcresearch.com .



The BBC Study team described the disparity study, including its purpose, methodology, and the study schedule. Following the presentation, attendees were given the opportunity to submit verbal or written testimony about their experiences doing work in the local marketplace and ask questions about the disparity study.

The study team plans to hold additional public meetings after the release of the draft report.
Please check back for dates and location of future public meetings.


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