Follow us:

The Today File

Your guide to the latest news from around the Northwest

September 3, 2014 at 1:44 PM

Seattle’s Transportation Department doing less business with women, minorities

The Seattle Department of Transportation (SDOT) has done less business in recent years with firms run by women and minorities, an official told the City Council this week.

SDOT’s use of Women- and Minority-owned Business Enterprises (WMBE) has declined dramatically since 2009 despite an ongoing, citywide effort to reduce race and gender disparities in government.

WMBEs accounted for just 11 percent of SDOT consultant spending as of July 1 this year, down from 23 percent in 2009, Nancy Locke, Seattle’s director of Purchasing and Contract Services, told the council Tuesday.

Such businesses received 7 percent of the agency’s purchasing dollars as of July 1, compared with 19 percent in 2009.

SDOT is one agency among many, and other departments have posted consistent WMBE gains.

Seattle City Light’s consultant use has steadily increased from 3 percent in 2005 to 17 percent, and its WMBE purchasing rate has climbed from 5 percent to 17 percent.

The Department of Neighborhoods boasts a 92 percent consultant-spending rate and a 69 percent purchasing rate.

But SDOT accounts for a large share of Seattle’s overall spending and its struggles have dampened the city’s progress overall, Locke said.

SDOT began spending less on WMBEs primarily because it moved from smaller, bundled contracts to larger, more comprehensive contracts, Locke said, citing the downtown waterfront seawall reconstruction project as an example.

WMBEs are generally less competitive in bidding on large contracts because they tend to be smaller business with narrower expertise.

This year, SDOT has attempted to use more WMBEs as subcontractors and its 11 percent  consultant rate is a significant increase over July 2013, Locke said.

Councilmember Tom Rasmussen, who chairs the transportation committee, said the council would press SDOT director nominee Scott Kubly on the issue as it discusses his confirmation this month.

Comments | More in Government | Topics: Scott Kubly, Seattle, Seattle Department of Transportation

COMMENTS

No personal attacks or insults, no hate speech, no profanity. Please keep the conversation civil and help us moderate this thread by reporting any abuse. See our Commenting FAQ.



The opinions expressed in reader comments are those of the author only, and do not reflect the opinions of The Seattle Times.


Advertising
The Seattle Times

The door is closed, but it's not locked.

Take a minute to subscribe and continue to enjoy The Seattle Times for as little as 99 cents a week.

Subscription options ►

Already a subscriber?

We've got good news for you. Unlimited seattletimes.com content access is included with most subscriptions.

Subscriber login ►
The Seattle Times

To keep reading, you need a subscription upgrade.

We hope you have enjoyed your complimentary access. For unlimited seattletimes.com access, please upgrade your digital subscription.

Call customer service at 1.800.542.0820 for assistance with your upgrade or questions about your subscriber status.

The Seattle Times

To keep reading, you need a subscription.

We hope you have enjoyed your complimentary access. Subscribe now for unlimited access!

Subscription options ►

Already a subscriber?

We've got good news for you. Unlimited seattletimes.com content access is included with most subscriptions.

Activate Subscriber Account ►