The U.S. Department of Transportation’s DBE (Disadvantaged Business Enterprise) program provides a vehicle for increasing the participation by MBEs in state and local procurement. DOT 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. Primarily 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. Minority group individuals are presumed to be socially and economically disadvantaged for the purposes of participation in this program. There has, 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. In 1987 Congress added women to the groups presumed to be disadvantaged. Since 1987 DOT has established a single DBE goal, encompassing both firms owned by women and small MBEs.
To be certified as a DBE , a firm must be a small business owned and controlled by socially and economically disadvantaged individuals. Certifiers make the determinations based upon on-site visits, personal interviews, reviews of licenses, stock ownership, equipment, bonding capacity, work completed, resume of principal owners and financial capacity.
Department of Transportation's Office of Small and Disadvantaged Business Utilization (DOT/OSDBU)
OSDBU Division Overview
Procurement Assistance Division  - works closely with DOT prime contractors, program, and procurement officials to ensure maximum practicable opportunities for small businesses to participate in DOT contracts and subcontracts.
The division provides management oversight and serves as a liaison with the Small Business Administration (SBA) in administering the various programs implemented through the DOT procurement process.
Financial Assistance Division  - administers the Short-Term Lending Program (STLP), which offers financing at competitive interest rates to certified minority, woman-owned, and DBEs to work on transportation-related contracts.
STLP provides these firms with access to the capital they need to grow and compete in the transportation marketplace.
Regional Partnerships Division  - oversees the Small Business Transportation Resource Centers (SBTRCs), which provides small businesses at the state and local level with valuable information and technical assistance to become better prepared to compete for federal, state, and local transportation contracts.