State auditor: MnDOT rarely met workforce diversity goals in construction contracts

The state auditor’s office says MnDOT rarely met state workforce diversity goals when hiring contractors in recent years.

In a report released Wednesday, the state auditor said the Minnesota Department of Transportation’s construction contract payments were only issued to certified targeted groups or veteran-owned businesses 11 percent of the time. Data showed that other demographic groups received a "significantly greater" share of the work.

The state workforce goals include increasing the diversity of workers on state-funded contracts, but the state auditor found that MnDOT has limited authority to enforce those goals in many cases.

During their research, the legislative auditor found half of the contracts reviewed met the contracting goals. However, the auditor’s office found MnDOT "often" did not document how it determined whether contractors met the goals.

Ultimately, the auditor suggested the legislature work with MnDOT to either revise those goals or develop new strategies to fulfill them. The auditor also recommended MnDOT better monitor whether its contractors are meeting these goals.

MnDOT has a cap on contract preferences, which the auditor said could have limited working with more diverse contractors. The auditor’s office said MnDOT should "reconsider" that cap.