Study Purpose


Through the 2016 Disparity Study, the Oregon Department of Transportation analyzed whether there is a level playing field for minority- and women-owned firms in the Oregon transportation contracting industry and in its own contracts. This information will help ODOT operate the Federal Disadvantaged Business Enterprise Program for its federally-funded contracts.

This research assisted ODOT in setting an overall goal for DBE participation in its future contracts funded by the Federal Highway Administration. ODOT must set this goal every three years.

The 2016 Disparity Study also provided ODOT information to determine if it should continue to set DBE contract goals on its FHWA-funded contracts. If such a program continues to be needed, the study will help ODOT determine the racial, ethnic and gender groups of certified DBEs eligible to meet DBE contract goals.

ODOT initiated the disparity study in November 2014. Keen Independent Research submitted preliminary results to ODOT in fall 2015. ODOT made preliminary results available for public review in April 2016 and the study completion in summer 2016.

ODOT last completed a disparity study in 2011 (PDF)

View the 2016 disparity study final report (PDF)

Study Methods

The U.S. Department of Transportation recommends agencies such as ODOT to periodically conduct disparity studies to determine if there is evidence of discrimination affecting their local transportation contracting marketplace. This 2016 Disparity Study will determine whether there are disparities between:

  • The percentage of dollars that minority-and women-owned businesses received on ODOT prime contracts and subcontracts during the study time period (referred to as a “utilization analysis”); and
  • The percentage of dollars that those firms might be expected to receive based on their availability to perform on ODOT’s prime and subcontracts (referred to as an “availability analysis”).

The comparison between an agency’s utilization of minority-and women-owned businesses and the availability of those businesses to perform that work is referred to as “disparity analysis.”

To conduct the utilization analysis, Keen Independent Research collected information about ODOT prime contracts and subcontracts going to minority- and women-owned firms and other businesses from October 2010 through September 2014.

To prepare the availability analysis, the study team conducted interviews with construction, engineering and related businesses to compile information about their qualifications and interest in different types of ODOT contracts.

The availability survey was followed by a series of in-depth personal interviews with a large number of business owners and trade associations throughout the state. Keen Independent Research also analyzed data about marketplace conditions for minority- and women-owned firms compared with other businesses.