Are minority contractors getting their fair share of Georgia Department of Transportation contracts?
A study commissioned by GDOT says "no."
The 500-page report reveals minority contractors are landing a little over two percent of all GDOT contracts.
Dump truck driver Charles Gibbs believes if the practice continues, he could lose his trucking business because GDOT and the companies it hires don't give enough contract work to minorities.
"We are in this business to try and make a decent living, but the way it is set up right now, it's just very challenging," a frustrated Gibbs said.
According to GDOT's "Disparity Report" from 2009 through June 2011, the department awarded 561 federal highway construction contracts totaling $1.7 billion. Those contractors only hired about 14 African American subcontractors to do the work. That comes to about 2.5 percent of all the contracts. Hispanic subcontractors landed even fewer jobs.
Bill Cannon spent more than 20 years working for the U.S. Department of Transportation. He's now the executive director for The Georgia Black Constructors Association.
Cannon says after GDOT awards construction contracts it's up the winner to choose subcontractors like Gibbs. Cannon said the only way to end this discrimination is for GDOT to track how taxpayer money is spent.
"It's very disturbing," Cannon said. "The fact is that we got the information from DOT that validates the fact that African American businesses have been essentially discriminated against," Cannon said.
GDOT denies any allegations that it willfully discriminates against any segment of the population. A spokesperson told CBS Atlanta its minority programs are designed for all, not just blacks. The agency points out that women during the same time period secured almost nine percent of contracts.
"When you add the dollars that white women owned firms received and you add that to dollars that white males owned firms received, that totals 96 percent," Cannon rebutted. "Ninety-six percent of all the dollars that are spent by DOT are going to one part of this entire state's population."
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