Evaluation of Efforts by the City of Denver and Five Federal Agencies To Comply with Certain Federal Affirmative Action Requirements

CED-78-172: Published: Sep 21, 1978. Publicly Released: Sep 21, 1978.

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Denver's Department of Public Works awarded approximately $55.5 million in construction contracts during the period July 1, 1975, to December 31, 1977, under federal grants from the following agencies, the Department of Health, Education, and Welfare; the Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD); the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA); the Federal Aviation Administration; and the Economic Development Administration. A number of federal affirmative action laws, rules, and regulations require federal agencies and grant recipients to assist certain business concerns to compete for contracts financed by federal funds.

Minority and other groups of contractors targeted for special assistance may not have been provided with the full range of opportunities required or implied by federal affirmative action mandates. This appeared to have been caused by the low priority placed on compliance with requirements by the federal agencies and the lack of strong commitment to affirmative action goals by Denver and its Department of Public Works. The lack of specificity in affirmative action requirements, a possible lack of federal enforcement authority, and implementation deficiencies could also have contributed to the problem of promoting affirmative action objectives. Policy questions which require resolution are: (1) what price concessions are necessary to obtain representation from the contractors to be assisted; (2) how much risk is to be accepted in relaxing requirements on contractor prequalification; (3) how are goals and timetables to be formulated; and (4) what is the proper balance between federal and local laws.

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