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Letter to Rep. Istook on Disadvantaged Business Enterprise Fraud at New Orleans Transportation Agencies

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We released an investigative report on disadvantaged business enterprise (DBE) programs at three New Orleans city agencies. Our report found instances of significant programmatic deficiencies and violations in key areas within the DBE programs of the New Orleans International Airport, the Regional Transit Authority, and the Orleans Levee District, which operates Lakefront Airport, all of which receive DOT funding. Examples of deficiencies include DBE businesses controlled by nonminorities, illegal DBE fronts, and political patronage that affected the awarding of DBE contracts.

Our review was based on an investigation requested by the House Appropriations Committee in the report accompanying the FY 2003 DOT Appropriations Act. The request stemmed from concerns initially raised by Rep. Harold Rogers, then chairman of the House Transportation Appropriations Subcommittee, and Rep. Vitter over a series of articles in the New Orleans Times Picayune newspaper about alleged systemic problems in local DBE programs.