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Illinois Department of Transportation Disparity Study

The Illinois Department of Transportation (“IDOT”) is conducting a disparity study for its Disadvantaged Business Enterprise (“DBE”) Program for construction, professional services and non-construction-related goods and services.  IDOT seeks to ensure that DBEs have equal access to contracting opportunities and that the current program remain legally defensible and administratively successful.

Photo of the Jane Byrne Interchange

A disparity study involves compilation of evidence to determine whether DBEs have equal opportunities on IDOT projects.  The study will determine IDOT’s utilization of DBEs and the availability of DBEs as a percentage of all firms in the market area and relevant industries.  The study will analyze whether there are disparities, if any, between the availability of DBEs and their utilization on IDOT contracts and related subcontracts, and throughout the Illinois economy as a whole.

The study will further examine factors necessary for entrepreneurial success, such as access to business capital, bonding, networks, suppliers, etc. It will also gather anecdotal evidence of any continuing effects of past or present race and sex discrimination, and the impact of the current DBE program.  Another important component is recommendations for future initiatives and enhancements.

The contract for this study has been awarded to Colette Holt & Associates (“CHA”), a nationally recognized expert team on disparity studies and M/WBE programs.  The firm has worked with several agencies in the State of Illinois over many years. CHA is partnering with local DBEs Sandi Llano & Associates, Inc. to assist with community engagement and anecdotal data collection, and L. Binder assist with contract data collection for the study.

How can you be involved? The participation of stakeholders and business owners is critical to the study’s outcomes in several important ways.

First, the study team will contact businesses to confirm information on specific contracts and/or to receive additional contract information that is currently not available or accessible to IDOT.  Like most government agencies, IDOT has not collected all of the specialized contracting records necessary for the study, so the consultant must rely on prime firms to supplement missing data. This information is critical to developing an accurate analysis of the utilization of DBEs on IDOT projects. With the support and assistance of business owners, the study will present a complete picture of IDOT’s contracting activities. CHA will work with the firms contacted to make the process as easy as possible.

Second, the consultant will meet with stakeholder groups to obtain their feedback and expertise about the experiences and needs of their member.

Third, interested parties can be part of the process for anecdotal data collection in multiple ways. CHA will distribute an electronic survey to business owners to obtain information about their firms, doing business in the overall economy and the administration of IDOT’s DBE program. The consultant will also conduct stakeholder and business owner small group interviews to obtain information about firms’ experiences with IDOT and throughout the State of Illinois construction economy. CHA will also solicit written comments on these topics. The information generated from these data collection methods will be an important component of the analysis of whether DBEs enjoy equal contracting opportunities. To learn about sessions pertinent to your business or organization, or to submit written comments, please email CHA at

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