The Department of Transportation

Rail programs among the business opportunities at the agency

Belinda Coleman

Belinda Coleman looks to put her business on the right track with the DOT. (Photo by Welton B. Doby III)

Belinda P. Coleman neither paves streets nor builds bridges, but her company does serve as an anchor to those that do. Her Lanham, Maryland-based company, The Coleman Group Inc., launched in 2004, is an IT and management consulting services firm that has been working with the Federal Transit Administration, an agency under the Department of Transportation (www.dot.gov), since September 2006 when it secured a $1.2 million contract. The company provides procurement and technical assistance to FTA grantees by ensuring that they adhere to the rules and regulations of the procurement funds they receive. Now, the 48-year-old is actively seeking additional contracts directly through the DOT—made possible by the American Reinvestment and Recovery Act.

“Our business stands ready and well-positioned to provide services to grantees as well as receive additional funding ourselves,” says Coleman, who has 33 full-time employees and annual revenue of $3 million.

The DOT, which is responsible for the safety and functions of the nation’s transportation systems on land, sea, and air, buys more than $4 billion annually in products and services. It purchases a variety of services including construction, rail safety, automobile and truck safety, research, highway engineering, information technology, finance and program administration. And through the Recovery Act, there is even more opportunity—up to $48 billion has been allocated to invest in America’s transportation infrastructure, thereby creating 400,000 jobs that focus on rebuilding roads, bridges, schools, and updating buses and trains.

The Recovery Act has also created new programs: The secretary of transportation will use $1.5 billion to offer grants, known as Tiger Discretionary Grants, for capital investments in surface transportation infrastructure projects. To apply for grants, go to www07.grants.gov, select find grant opportunities, browse by agency, and finally, select U.S. Department of Transportation. For example, under the Federal Railroad Administration, $8 billion is focused on jumpstarting high-speed and intercity rail programs in the country, while the Federal Transit Administration offers a grant program called the Transit Investments for Greenhouse Gas and Energy Reduction to reduce energy consumption or greenhouse gases.

President Obama has also provided funds to give small and disadvantaged businesses a head start in winning procurement projects. The Office of Small and Disadvantaged Business Utilization (www.osdbu.dot.gov) was granted $20 million to create the ARRA disadvantaged business enterprise (DBE) bonding assistance program.

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