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Chicago Transit Authority
Disparity Study

The Chicago Transit Authority (CTA) is conducting a Disparity Study for its Disadvantaged Business Enterprise (DBE) program to ensure that disadvantaged businesses have equal access to contracting opportunities and that current programs remain legally defensible and administratively successful.

A Disparity Study involves compilation of evidence to determine whether the agency may implement race- and gender-conscious contracting remedies and, if so, how to narrowly tailor its program. The Study will include statistical evidence of the CTA’s utilization of DBEs, the availability of DBEs as a percentage of all firms in the market area and relevant industries, and whether there are disparities, if any, between the availability of DBEs and their utilization on non-federally funded agency contracts and related subcontracts, and throughout the area economy as a whole.

The Study will further examine factors necessary for entrepreneurial success, such as access to business capital, bonding, networks, suppliers, etc. It will also gather anecdotal evidence of any continuing effects of past or present race and sex discrimination, and the impact of the current DBE program. Another important component is a review of the CTA’s current DBE program and recommendations for future initiatives and enhancements.

The contract for this Study has been awarded to Colette Holt & Associates, a nationally recognized expert team on disparity studies and D/M/WBE programs, in conjunction with local partner Sandi Llano & Associates Inc.

How can you be involved? The participation of stakeholders and business owners is critical to the Study’s outcomes in two important ways.

First, the Study team will contact businesses to confirm information on specific contracts and/or to receive additional contract information that is currently not available or accessible to the CTA. Since government agencies, such as the CTA, often only maintain contracting records related to contract compliance reporting, the consultant must rely on prime firms to supplement the CTA’s contract data. This information is critical to developing an accurate analysis of the utilization of DBEs on CTA projects. With the support and assistance of business owners, the Study will present a complete picture of the CTA’s contracting activities. Some firms will be contacted to provide such data. CHA will work with the firms to make the process as easy as possible.

Second, interested persons can be part of the process for anecdotal data collection by participating in a public meeting and focus groups of business owners to share experiences and insights. It is very important that stakeholder groups such as industry organizations, community groups and chambers of commerce with an interest in the CTA’s DBE Program and contracting activities, help to distribute information to their members, so that all firms can participate. The information generated from these sessions will be an important component of the analysis of whether the DBE program remains narrowly tailored. To learn about sessions pertinent to your type of business, please email Colette Holt at

Frequently Asked Questions (click to download)