The National Academies

ACRP 01-51 [Active]

Improving Airport Organizational Practices to Enhance ACDBE/DBE Participation

  Project Data
Funds: $399,998
Staff Responsibility: Joseph D. Navarrete
Research Agency: Airport Minority Advisory Council (AMAC)
Principal Investigator: Nancy West
Effective Date: 6/16/2022
Completion Date: 12/14/2023

Airports offer many business opportunities (e.g., concessions, construction, goods and services) and have a desire to increase and maintain meaningful participation from airport concessions disadvantaged business enterprises (ACDBEs) and other disadvantaged business enterprises (DBEs). U.S. Department of Transportation’s (DOT's) regulations as described in 49 CFR Parts 23 and 26 require most airports to set ACDBE and/or DBE participation goals.  Despite this, the increase in disadvantaged business participation at airports has been limited, and there continues to be many challenges to achieving desired goals.  While prior research has focused on identifying those challenges, solutions have been targeted and limited in scope and often did not consider a holistic organizational approach. Research is needed to assess organizational barriers and develop guidelines and tools to improve airport organizational practices to enhance ACDBE/DBE participation in airport contracts.
The objective of this research is to provide guidelines and tools of effective practices to help airports increase and maintain meaningful ACDBE/DBE participation in their business opportunities (e.g., concessions, construction, goods and services). The guidelines and tools should help airports assess and improve their organizations and practices to address the challenges faced by ACDBEs/DBEs and should include: 
  • Primer on the current regulatory environment, state of practice, and the challenges to increase and maintain ACDBE/DBE participation.  At a minimum, the topics should include:
    • Resources financing;
    • Bonding;
    • Insurance requirements;
    • Access/relationship building;
    • Information access/knowledge;
    • Certification;
    • Business development resources;
    • Contract size/unbundling;
    • Partnerships/mentoring;
    • Institutional factors;
    • Access to capital/payment terms;
    • Capacity building;
    • Previous airport experience;
    • Understanding contracts; and
    • Systemic bias.
  • Guidebook with tools, examples, and resources to help airports assess and implement organizational practices that foster increased ACDBE/DBE participation. The guidelines and tools should allow airports to take a comprehensive and holistic approach and address, at a minimum:
    • Leadership;
    • Vision and strategy;
    • Cultural competence;
    • Equity and inclusion approach;
    • Internal and external stakeholder engagement;
    • Planning and operations;
    • Resources (staffing, finances, and technology); and
    • Benchmarking, assessment, and reporting.
The guidelines and tools should be consistent with existing regulations and policies and scalable and adaptable to the unique conditions of the airport, including type, size, governance, and resource availability.
The research plan should, at a minimum, the following interim deliverables:
  • A review of current practice relative to airports addressing ACDBE/DBE participation barriers, including (but not limited to) airports’ awareness, use, and success relative to previous ACRP studies;
  • Interim report documenting the research effort and results of the project to date, including: (1) annotated guidebook outline; (2) description of proposed tools; (3) proposal for an additional effort to facilitate industry implementation (see Special Note B); and (4) recommended next steps.
The research plan should include, at a minimum, the following checkpoints with the ACRP project panel: (1) kickoff web meeting to be held within 1 month of contract execution; (2) web meeting to discuss the current practice review; and (3) interim meeting to review the results of the interim report and confirm remaining research approach.
The final deliverables will include: 
  • Primer;
  • Guidebook with tools and examples;
  • Technical report;
  • Summary of Key Findings;
  • Further Recommended Research memo; and
  • Technical memo titled, “Implementation of Research Findings and Products”.

Research underway.

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