The U.S. Department of Transportation's DBE (Disadvantaged Business Enterprise) program provides a vehicle for increasing the participation by minorities 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 DBE's. 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. Three major DOT operating administrations are involved in the DBE program. They are 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 of presumed be to disadvantaged. The main objectives of the DBE Program are:
- To ensure that small disadvantaged business enterprises (DBE) can compete fairly for federally funded transportation-related projects.
- To ensure that only eligible firms participate as DBE's.
- To assist DBE firms in competing outside the DBE Program.