Weaknesses in the Department’s Disadvantaged Business Enterprise Program Limit Achievement of Its Objectives
On April 23, 2013, we issued our final report on the Department of Transportation’s (DOT) administration of its Disadvantaged Business Enterprise (DBE) Program. We assessed whether (1) the Department provides adequate DBE program management, (2) DOT’s Operating Administrations and recipients sufficiently oversee and implement the DBE program, and (3) the Department achieves its program objective to help develop DBEs to succeed in the marketplace.
Our audit found that the Department does not provide effective program management for the DBE program. Specifically, the Department has not issued comprehensive, standardized DBE guidance; provided sufficient training to the recipients responsible for implementing the program; or established a single line of accountability for the program. In addition, the Operating Administrations and recipients do not adequately oversee or implement the DBE program. We identified weak DBE certification and contract oversight practices at States, which increase the risk that ineligible firms will be certified as DBEs. Finally, the Department has limited success in achieving its program objective to develop DBE firms to succeed in the marketplace, as we found that most certified DBEs never receive work on Federal projects.
We made eight recommendations to the Office of the Secretary (OST) to enhance DOT’s DBE program management and oversight. OST concurred with three and partially concurred with five recommendations. We are requesting that OST provide clarification or additional information for six recommendations. We are also requesting more timely completion dates for two recommendations.