The U.S. Department of Transportation's DBE (disadvantaged business enterprise) program provides a vehicle for increasing the participation by MBEs (minority business enterprise) in state and local procurement. DOT (Department of Transportation) DBE regulations require state and local transportation agencies that receive DOT financial assistance, to establish goals for the participation of DBEs. Each DOT-assisted State and local transportation agency is required to establish annual DBE goals, and review the scopes of anticipated large prime contracts throughout the year and establish contract-specific DBE subcontracting goals. Along with the OSDBU, the Departmental Office of Civil Rights, and the Office of the General Counsel; there are three major DOT operating administrations are involved in the DBE program. They are the Federal Highway Administration, the Federal Aviation Administration and the Federal Transit Administration.
In addition to establishing goals, state and local recipients also certify the eligibility of DBE firms to participate in DOT-assisted projects. Some groups are presumed to be socially and economically disadvantaged for the purposes of participation in this program. In 1987 Congress added women to the groups presumed to be disadvantaged. The main objectives of the DBE Program are:
There has been, since 1983, a statutory provision requiring DOT to ensure that at least 10% of the funds authorized for the highway and transit financial assistance programs be expended with DBEs. DOT has established a single DBE goal, encompassing both firms owned by women and minority group members.
Contracts for businesses that are DBE certified are always available because government entities which receive funding from the Department of Transportation (DOT), the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA), the Federal Transit Administration (FTA) and the Federal Highway Administration (FHWA) are required to make contracts available to companies with a DBE certification. All state and local government entities who are recipients of funds from the FAA and FTA must have a DBE program if they plan to award contracts exceeding $250,000. All recipients of Federal FHWA funds must have a DBE program regardless of projected contract amounts.
In order for the entities who receive funding from the Department of Transportation to continue receiving those funds they must show that they have awarded contracts to companies who are DBE certified. Each year these government entities must set a goal for utilizing DBE certified firms on their projects. The end result is that there is a demand for DBE certified firms.
Both the government agencies who set the goals and the non-DBE prime contractors that they hire are actively looking for companies with a DBE certification in order to meet their required goals. These government entities and the larger non-DBE firms with which they contract must use the services of DBE certified companies to fulfill their requirements with the Department of Transportation.