Results of our DBE Needs Assessment

DBE Survey Respondents

49.7% 54.8%

of the DBE certified firms who responded indicated having been certified for six years or more, while 45.6 indicated they have been certified for 5 years or less.

of the DBE respondents indicated they have submitted proposals and/or bids to Caltrans, while only 34.8% indicate they have been awarded a Caltrans contract.

When asked, of the contracts you have been awarded, which of the following represents the portion of those contracts for which your firm was awarded work because of your DBE certification, 51.2% of the certified DBE firms responded only a few or none.
58.9% of respondents indicated that work available to DBE subcontractors only through prime/subcontractor teaming agreements was the barrier most identified that they encountered while doing business with Caltrans. 48.5% indicated difficulty in connecting with or getting commitments from primes/subcontractors.

Top DBE Challenges

  • Work available to DBE subcontractors only through prime/subcontractor teaming agreements
  • Difficulty in connecting with/getting commitments from primes/subcontractors
  • Prime contractors include DBEs on their team but do not assign any work
  • Lack of knowledge regarding upcoming projects and bid requirements
  • Insufficient or ineffective goals for DBE involvement

Top Prime Challenges

  • Scope of work not appropriate for their firm DBEs not responsive to Caltrans or prime contractor requirements
  • Difficulty in meeting, contracting requirements (insurance, bonding, etc.)
  • Lack of higher level business management/financial management skills needed for contracting
  • Lack of knowledge regarding upcoming projects and bid requirements

Each of the four groups of stakeholders were asked what barriers DBEs encounter in doing work for primes and/or for Caltrans. While the DBEs rated that work available to DBE subcontractors only through prime/subcontractor teaming arrangements and difficulty in connecting with/getting commitments from primes/subcontractors the highest, the prime contractors, Caltrans employees, public agency representatives, and service providers rated scope of work not appropriate for their firm and difficulty in meeting contracting requirements (insurance, bonding, etc.) as among the greatest barriers. Conversely, the DBE survey respondents rated these same factors the lowest. The factor, work available to DBE subcontractors only through prime/subcontractor teaming arrangements was rated by 50% or more of the respondents from all groups except for the prime contractor representatives.

The majority of the prime contractors that responded to the survey indicated that issues with understanding and completing the bids and/or proposal paperwork and timely responsiveness inhibit DBEs from successfully securing subcontract work on Caltrans projects.

Potential Solutions

The majority of the DBE certified respondents feel the following would better position them to obtain business with Caltrans:

  • • Higher percentage of DBE subcontractor involvement required on large contracts
  • Contracts being let in smaller, task-specific segments
  • More stringent requirements relative to prime contractors assigning work to DBEs
  • Improvement in the DBE program at the Federal level, such as small business set asides
4,842 Number of DBE Firms
517 Number of Contracts to DBEs*
168 Number of DBEs Awarded Contracts*
70% Percent of DBEs rated Caltrans awards as biggest reason for certification
*Numbers based on DBEs Used in Contracts (DUC) A&E/Minor B and Construction 14-15 Report
When asked what would help DBEs be better positioned to obtain business with Caltrans, the greatest responses included contracts being let in smaller, task-specific segments, more opportunities for connecting primes/subcontractors, and improvement in the DBE program at the Federal level, such as small business set asides.

Based on survey results, recommendations include:

  • Requiring subcontractors to be part of a prime contractor team
  • Monitoring primes that invite DBEs to their teams actually assign work
  • Monitoring prompt payment of DBE subcontractors by Primes
  • Breaking project scopes into task-specific segments or smaller value contracts
  • Making contract requirements (insurance, bonding, etc. ) less burdensome for DBEs
  • Re-evaluating NAICS codes requirements that restrict DBE applicability to tasks needed in scopes of work

Technical Assistance

DBE certified respondents indicate that they could benefit from support with the following (in descending order of importance)

  • Proposal development
  • Bidding and Estimating
  • Business Marketing
  • Contract Compliance
  • Payroll and Prevailing Wage
Bidding and Estimating, Proposal Development, and Contract Compliance related topics were also rated very high by the other groups as areas of technical assistance that may help DBEs improve their chances of winning Caltrans work.