(a) It is the policy of this State, based on a compelling governmental interest, to encourage and promote participation by disadvantaged minority-owned and women-owned businesses in contracts let by the Department pursuant to this Chapter for the planning, design, preconstruction, construction, alteration, or maintenance of State transportation infrastructure and in the procurement of materials for these projects. All State agencies, institutions, and political subdivisions shall cooperate with the Department of Transportation and among themselves in all efforts to conduct outreach and to encourage and promote the use of disadvantaged minority-owned and women-owned businesses in these contracts.
(b) At least every five years, the Department shall conduct a study on the availability and utilization of disadvantaged minority-owned and women-owned business enterprises and examine relevant evidence of the effects of race-based or gender-based discrimination upon the utilization of such business enterprises in contracts for planning, design, preconstruction, construction, alteration, or maintenance of State transportation infrastructure and in the procurement of materials for these projects. Should the study show a strong basis in evidence of ongoing effects of past or present discrimination that prevents or limits disadvantaged minority-owned and women-owned businesses from participating in the above contracts at a level which would have existed absent such discrimination, such evidence shall constitute a basis for the State's continued compelling governmental interest in remedying such race and gender discrimination in transportation contracting. Under such circumstances, the Department shall, in conformity with State and federal law, adopt by rule and contract provisions a specific program to remedy such discrimination. This specific program shall, to the extent reasonably practicable, address each barrier identified in such study that adversely affects contract participation by disadvantaged minority-owned and women-owned businesses.
(b1) Based upon the findings of the Department's 2009 study entitled "Measuring Business Opportunity: A Disparity Study of NCDOT's State and Federal Programs" hereinafter referred to as "Study", the program design shall, to the extent reasonably practicable, incorporate narrowly tailored remedies identified in the Study, and the Department shall implement a comprehensive antidiscrimination enforcement policy. As appropriate, the program design shall be modified by rules adopted by the Department that are consistent with findings made in the Study and in subsequent studies conducted in accordance with subsection (b) of this section. As part of this program, the Department shall review its budget and establish aspirational goals every three years, not mandatory goals, in percentages, for the overall participation in contracts by disadvantaged minority-owned and women-owned businesses. These aspirational goals for disadvantaged minority-owned and women-owned businesses shall be established consistent with federal methodology, and they shall not be applied rigidly on specific contracts or projects. Instead, the Department shall establish contract-specific goals or project-specific goals for the participation of such firms in a manner consistent with availability of disadvantaged minority-owned and women-owned businesses, as appropriately defined by its most recent Study, for each disadvantaged minority-owned and women-owned business category that has demonstrated significant disparity in contract utilization. Nothing in this section shall authorize the use of quotas. Any program implemented as a result of the Study conducted in accordance with this section shall be narrowly tailored to eliminate the effects of historical and continuing discrimination and its impacts on such disadvantaged minority-owned and women-owned businesses without any undue burden on other contractors. The Department shall give equal opportunity for contracts it lets without regard to race, religion, color, creed, national origin, sex, age, or handicapping condition, as defined in G.S. 168A-3, to all contractors and businesses otherwise qualified.
(c) The following definitions apply in this section:
(1) "Contract" includes, but is not limited to, contracts let under the procedures set forth in G.S. 136-28.1(a) and (b).
(1a) "Disadvantaged Business" has the same meaning as "disadvantaged business enterprise" in 49 C.F.R. 26.5 Subpart A or any subsequently promulgated replacement regulation.
(2) "Minority" includes only those racial or ethnicity classifications identified by a study conducted in accordance with this section that have been subjected to discrimination in the relevant marketplace and that have been adversely affected in their ability to obtain contracts with the Department.
(3) "Women" means nonminority persons born of the female sex.
(d) The Department shall report annually to the Joint Legislative Transportation Oversight Committee on the utilization of disadvantaged minority-owned businesses and women-owned businesses and any program adopted to promote contracting opportunities for those businesses. Following each study of availability and utilization, the Department shall report to the Joint Legislative Transportation Oversight Committee on the results of the study for the purpose of determining whether the provisions of this section should continue in force and effect.
(e) This section expires August 31, 2014. (1983, c. 692, s. 3; 1989, c. 692, s. 1.5; 1989 (Reg. Sess., 1990), c. 1066, s. 143(a); 2006-261, s. 4; 2009-266, s. 3; 2010-165, s. 9; 2013-340, s. 2.2.)
Last modified: March 23, 2014