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.

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:

  • 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 DBEs.
  • To assist DBE firms in competing outside the DBE Program.

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.

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.

Good Faith Efforts

City of Clovis Fiscal Year Bidder’s List


  • Disadvantaged Business Enterprise (DBE): A for-profit “small business concern” that is at least 51 percent owned and controlled by one or more socially and economically disadvantaged individuals. One or more such individuals must also control the management and daily business operations. These individuals must be citizens (or lawfully admitted permanent residents) of the United States and (1) any individual who a recipient finds to be a socially and economically disadvantaged individual on a case-by-case basis, or (2) who are either African Americans, Hispanic Americans, Native Americans, Asian-Pacific Americans, Subcontinent Asian Americans, (persons whose origin are from India, Pakistan, Bangladesh, Bhutan, Maldives Islands, Nepal or Sri Lanka), Women, or any other group found to be socially and economically disadvantaged by the Small Business Administration (See 49 CFR 26).
  • Race-Conscious Measure or Program: One that is focused specifically on assisting only DBEs. The use of contract goals is the primary example of a race-conscious measure in the DBE program.
  • Race-Neutral Measure or Program: A race-neutral measure or program is one that, while benefiting DBEs, is not solely focused on DBE firms. For example, small business outreach programs, technical assistance programs, and prompt payment clauses can assist a wide variety of small businesses not just DBEs. For purposes here, race-neutral includes gender neutrality.
  • Recipient: The recipient of federal funds refers to Caltrans.
  • Statewide Overall DBE Goal: As required by Title 49 CFR 26, Caltrans has established a statewide overall DBE goal. This is the average level of participation that Caltrans would expect DBEs to achieve in California. In order to ascertain whether the statewide overall DBE goal is achieved, Caltrans will track DBE participation on all federal-aid contracts.
  • Sub-recipient: Refers to the Local Agency receiving federal funds.

DBE Agreements and Participation

DBE Participation Information

DBE Resources