What is the Disadvantaged Business Enterprise (DBE) Certification Program?


The United States Department of Transportation (DOT) has created a certification program that focuses on economically disadvantaged businesses and minority business enterprises. The name of the program is called the Disadvantaged Business Enterprise (DBE) Certification Program.  Businesses must be 51% owned and controlled by an economically and socially disadvantaged individual.  The DBE program provides more exposure to government contracting opportunities to small businesses. Once a business is certified in the DBE program businesses are added to a state database managed by the TDOT that is called the Certified Disadvantaged Business Enterprise Listing. Agency officials can then reference this database when seeking out DBE certified businesses.  The DOT has spent over $6 billion on government contracts for the past four years.  The DBE Program proves to be an excellent program for small businesses interested in winning government contracts on a state/federal level.  Businesses must be registered in System for Award Management (SAM) before being awarded government contracts.

DOT Spending


10% of all the DOT spending must be to DBE certified businesses according to a statutory provision created in 1983.  The DBE Certification Program acts like a department-wide federal set-aside program. The DOT helps state and local transportation agencies establish goals for disadvantaged businesses that certify for the program.  Thus making it easier for the DOT to issue small business contracts agency wide.

The three major Department of Transportation administrations that are currently required to be involved in the DBE program are the Federal Transit Administration (FTA), Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) and Federal Highway Administration (FHWA).  All of these administrations must have their government contractor become certified in the DBE in order to award them any government contracts.


Businesses are highly encouraged to enroll in the program because of its trusted background. The FAA and the FTA must award a contract over $250,000 to a business that is certified through the DBE program.  Prime contractors are federally mandated to subcontract out a portion of their awarded funding to businesses that are DBE certified.  There is a high demand for DBE certified businesses because government agencies a part of the program have a quota they must achieve every year.  Even if a non-DBE certified business has the services the DOT is looking for, they must still go through a DBE certification process before they can be given the contract.

If you would like to learn even more about the DBE Program click here to be directed to the Electronic Code of Federal Regulations.

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