(a) You must meet the maximum feasible portion of your overall goal by using race-neutral means of facilitating race-neutral DBE participation. Race-neutral DBE participation includes any time a DBE wins a prime contract through customary competitive procurement procedures or is awarded a subcontract on a prime contract that does not carry a DBE contract goal.
(b) Race-neutral means include, but are not limited to, the following:
(1) Arranging solicitations, times for the presentation of bids, quantities, specifications, and delivery schedules in ways that facilitate participation by DBEs and other small businesses and by making contracts more accessible to small businesses, by means such as those provided under § 26.39 of this part.
(2) Providing assistance in overcoming limitations such as inability to obtain bonding or financing (e.g., by such means as simplifying the bonding process, reducing bonding requirements, eliminating the impact of surety costs from bids, and providing services to help DBEs, and other small businesses, obtain bonding and financing);
(3) Providing technical assistance and other services;
(4) Carrying out information and communications programs on contracting procedures and specific contract opportunities (e.g., ensuring the inclusion of DBEs, and other small businesses, on recipient mailing lists for bidders; ensuring the dissemination to bidders on prime contracts of lists of potential subcontractors; provision of information in languages other than English, where appropriate);
(5) Implementing a supportive services program to develop and improve immediate and long-term business management, record keeping, and financial and accounting capability for DBEs and other small businesses;
(6) Providing services to help DBEs, and other small businesses, improve long-term development, increase opportunities to participate in a variety of kinds of work, handle increasingly significant projects, and achieve eventual self-sufficiency;
(7) Establishing a program to assist new, start-up firms, particularly in fields in which DBE participation has historically been low;
(8) Ensuring distribution of your DBE directory, through print and electronic means, to the widest feasible universe of potential prime contractors; and
(9) Assisting DBEs, and other small businesses, to develop their capability to utilize emerging technology and conduct business through electronic media.
(c) Each time you submit your overall goal for review by the concerned operating administration, you must also submit your projection of the portion of the goal that you expect to meet through race-neutral means and your basis for that projection. This projection is subject to approval by the concerned operating administration, in conjunction with its review of your overall goal.
(d) You must establish contract goals to meet any portion of your overall goal you do not project being able to meet using race-neutral means.
(e) The following provisions apply to the use of contract goals:
(1) You may use contract goals only on those DOT-assisted contracts that have subcontracting possibilities.
(2) You are not required to set a contract goal on every DOT-assisted contract. You are not required to set each contract goal at the same percentage level as the overall goal. The goal for a specific contract may be higher or lower than that percentage level of the overall goal, depending on such factors as the type of work involved, the location of the work, and the availability of DBEs for the work of the particular contract. However, over the period covered by your overall goal, you must set contract goals so that they will cumulatively result in meeting any portion of your overall goal you do not project being able to meet through the use of race-neutral means.
(3) Operating administration approval of each contract goal is not necessarily required. However, operating administrations may review and approve or disapprove any contract goal you establish.
(4) Your contract goals must provide for participation by all certified DBEs and must not be subdivided into group-specific goals.
(f) To ensure that your DBE program continues to be narrowly tailored to overcome the effects of discrimination, you must adjust your use of contract goals as follows:
(1) If your approved projection under paragraph (c) of this section estimates that you can meet your entire overall goal for a given year through race-neutral means, you must implement your program without setting contract goals during that year, unless it becomes necessary in order meet your overall goal.
Your overall goal for Year 1 is 12 percent. You estimate that you can obtain 12 percent or more DBE participation through the use of race-neutral measures, without any use of contract goals. In this case, you do not set any contract goals for the contracts that will be performed in Year 1. However, if part way through Year 1, your DBE awards or commitments are not at a level that would permit you to achieve your overall goal for Year 1, you could begin setting race-conscious DBE contract goals during the remainder of the year as part of your obligation to implement your program in good faith.
(2) If, during the course of any year in which you are using contract goals, you determine that you will exceed your overall goal, you must reduce or eliminate the use of contract goals to the extent necessary to ensure that the use of contract goals does not result in exceeding the overall goal. If you determine that you will fall short of your overall goal, then you must make appropriate modifications in your use of race-neutral and/or race-conscious measures to allow you to meet the overall goal.
In Year II, your overall goal is 12 percent. You have estimated that you can obtain 5 percent DBE participation through use of race-neutral measures. You therefore plan to obtain the remaining 7 percent participation through use of DBE goals. By September, you have already obtained 11 percent DBE participation for the year. For contracts let during the remainder of the year, you use contract goals only to the extent necessary to obtain an additional one percent DBE participation. However, if you determine in September that your participation for the year is likely to be only 8 percent total, then you would increase your use of race-neutral and/or race-conscious means during the remainder of the year in order to achieve your overall goal.
(3) If the DBE participation you have obtained by race-neutral means alone meets or exceeds your overall goals for two consecutive years, you are not required to make a projection of the amount of your goal you can meet using such means in the next year. You do not set contract goals on any contracts in the next year. You continue using only race-neutral means to meet your overall goals unless and until you do not meet your overall goal for a year.
Your overall goal for Years I and Year II is 10 percent. The DBE participation you obtain through race-neutral measures alone is 10 percent or more in each year. (For this purpose, it does not matter whether you obtained additional DBE participation through using contract goals in these years.) In Year III and following years, you do not need to make a projection under paragraph (c) of this section of the portion of your overall goal you expect to meet using race-neutral means. You simply use race-neutral means to achieve your overall goals. However, if in Year VI your DBE participation falls short of your overall goal, then you must make a paragraph (c) projection for Year VII and, if necessary, resume use of contract goals in that year.
(4) If you obtain DBE participation that exceeds your overall goal in two consecutive years through the use of contract goals (i.e., not through the use of race-neutral means alone), you must reduce your use of contract goals proportionately in the following year.
In Years I and II, your overall goal is 12 percent, and you obtain 14 and 16 percent DBE participation, respectively. You have exceeded your goals over the two-year period by an average of 25 percent. In Year III, your overall goal is again 12 percent, and your paragraph (c) projection estimates that you will obtain 4 percent DBE participation through race-neutral means and 8 percent through contract goals. You then reduce the contract goal projection by 25 percent (i.e., from 8 to 6 percent) and set contract goals accordingly during the year. If in Year III you obtain 11 percent participation, you do not use this contract goal adjustment mechanism for Year IV, because there have not been two consecutive years of exceeding overall goals.
(g) In any year in which you project meeting part of your goal through race-neutral means and the remainder through contract goals, you must maintain data separately on DBE achievements in those contracts with and without contract goals, respectively. You must report this data to the concerned operating administration as provided in § 26.11.