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Part 26 Subpart A - General

Sec. 26.1 What are the objectives of this part?

This part seeks to achieve several objectives:

(a) To ensure nondiscrimination in the award and administration of DOT-assisted contracts in the Department's highway, transit, and airport financial assistance programs;

(b) To create a level playing field on which DBEs can compete fairly for DOT-assisted contracts;

(c) To ensure that the Department's DBE program is narrowly tailored in accordance with applicable law;

(d) To ensure that only firms that fully meet this part's eligibility standards are permitted to participate as DBEs;

(e) To help remove barriers to the participation of DBEs in DOT- assisted contracts;

(f) To assist the development of firms that can compete successfully in the marketplace outside the DBE program; and

(g) To provide appropriate flexibility to recipients of Federal financial assistance in establishing and providing opportunities for DBEs.

Sec. 26.3 To whom does this part apply?

(a) If you are a recipient of any of the following types of funds, this part applies to you:

(1) Federal-aid highway funds authorized under Titles I (other than Part B) and V of the Intermodal Surface Transportation Efficiency Act of 1991 (ISTEA), Pub. L. 102-240, 105 Stat. 1914, or Titles I, III, and V of the Transportation Equity Act for the 21st Century (TEA-21), Pub. L. 105-178, 112 Stat. 107.

(2) Federal transit funds authorized by Titles I, III, V and VI of ISTEA, Pub. L. 102-240 or by Federal transit laws in Title 49, U.S. Code, or Titles I, III, and V of the TEA-21, Pub. L. 105-178.

(3) Airport funds authorized by 49 U.S.C. 47101, et seq.

(b) [Reserved]

(c) If you are letting a contract, and that contract is to be performed entirely outside the United States, its territories and possessions, Puerto Rico, Guam, or the Northern Marianas Islands, this part does not apply to the contract.

(d) If you are letting a contract in which DOT financial assistance does not participate, this part does not apply to the contract.

Sec. 26.5 What do the terms used in this part mean?

Affiliation has the same meaning the term has in the Small Business Administration (SBA) regulations, 13 CFR part 121.

(1) Except as otherwise provided in 13 CFR part 121, concerns are affiliates of each other when, either directly or indirectly:

(i) One concern controls or has the power to control the other; or

(ii) A third party or parties controls or has the power to control both; or

(iii) An identity of interest between or among parties exists such that affiliation may be found.

(2) In determining whether affiliation exists, it is necessary to consider all appropriate factors, including common ownership, common management, and contractual relationships. Affiliates must be considered together in determining whether a concern meets small business size criteria and the statutory cap on the participation of firms in the DBE program.

Alaska Native means a citizen of the United States who is a person of one-fourth degree or more Alaskan Indian (including Tsimshian Indians not enrolled in the Metlaktla Indian Community), Eskimo, or Aleut blood, or a combination of those bloodlines. The term includes, in the absence of proof of a minimum blood quantum, any citizen whom a Native village or Native group regards as an Alaska Native if their father or mother is regarded as an Alaska Native.

Alaska Native Corporation (ANC) means any Regional Corporation, Village Corporation, Urban Corporation, or Group Corporation organized under the laws of the State of Alaska in accordance with the Alaska Native Claims Settlement Act, as amended (43 U.S.C. 1601, et seq.).

Compliance means that a recipient has correctly implemented the requirements of this part.

Contract means a legally binding relationship obligating a seller to furnish supplies or services (including, but not limited to, construction and professional services) and the buyer to pay for them.

Contractor means one who participates, through a contract or subcontract (at any tier), in a DOT-assisted highway, transit, or airport program.

Department or DOT means the U.S. Department of Transportation, including the Office of the Secretary, the Federal Highway Administration (FHWA), the Federal Transit Administration (FTA), and the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA).

Disadvantaged business enterprise or DBE means a for-profit small business concern--

(1) That is at least 51 percent owned by one or more individuals who are both socially and economically disadvantaged or, in the case of a corporation, in which 51 percent of the stock is owned by one or more such individuals; and

(2) Whose management and daily business operations are controlled by one or more of the socially and economically disadvantaged individuals who own it.

DOT-assisted contract means any contract between a recipient and a contractor (at any tier) funded in whole or in part with DOT financial assistance, including letters of credit or loan guarantees, except a contract solely for the purchase of land.

Good faith efforts means efforts to achieve a DBE goal or other requirement of this part which, by their scope, intensity, and appropriateness to the objective, can reasonably be expected to fulfill the program requirement.

Immediate family member means father, mother, husband, wife, son, daughter, brother, sister, grandmother, grandfather, grandson, granddaughter, mother-in-law, or father-in-law.

Indian tribe means any Indian tribe, band, nation, or other organized group or community of Indians, including any ANC, which is recognized as eligible for the special programs and services provided by the United States to Indians because of their status as Indians, or is recognized as such by the State in which the tribe, band, nation, group, or community resides. See definition of ``tribally-owned concern'' in this section.

Joint venture means an association of a DBE firm and one or more other firms to carry out a single, for-profit business enterprise, for which the parties combine their property, capital, efforts, skills and knowledge, and in which the DBE is responsible for a distinct, clearly defined portion of the work of the contract and whose share in the capital contribution, control, management, risks, and profits of the joint venture are commensurate with its ownership interest.

Native Hawaiian means any individual whose ancestors were natives, prior to 1778, of the area which now comprises the State of Hawaii.

Native Hawaiian Organization means any community service organization serving Native Hawaiians in the State of Hawaii which is a not-for-profit organization chartered by the State of Hawaii, is controlled by Native Hawaiians, and whose business activities will principally benefit such Native Hawaiians.

Noncompliance means that a recipient has not correctly implemented the requirements of this part.

Operating Administration or OA means any of the following parts of DOT: the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA), Federal Highway Administration (FHWA), and Federal Transit Administration (FTA). The ``Administrator'' of an operating administration includes his or her designees.

Personal net worth means the net value of the assets of an individual remaining after total liabilities are deducted. An individual's personal net worth does not include: The individual's ownership interest in an applicant or participating DBE firm; or the individual's equity in his or her primary place of residence. An individual's personal net worth includes only his or her own share of assets held jointly or as community property with the individual's spouse.

Primary industry classification means the four digit Standard Industrial Classification (SIC) code designation which best describes the primary business of a firm. The SIC code designations are described in the Standard Industry Classification Manual. As the North American Industrial Classification System (NAICS) replaces the SIC system, references to SIC codes and the SIC Manual are deemed to refer to the NAICS manual and applicable codes. The SIC Manual and the NAICS Manual are available through the National Technical Information Service (NTIS) of the U.S. Department of Commerce (Springfield, VA, 22261). NTIS also makes materials available through its web site (

Primary recipient means a recipient which receives DOT financial assistance and passes some or all of it on to another recipient.

Principal place of business means the business location where the individuals who manage the firm's day-to-day operations spend most working hours and where top management's business records are kept. If the offices from which management is directed and where business records are kept are in different locations, the recipient will determine the principal place of business for DBE program purposes.

Program means any undertaking on a recipient's part to use DOT financial assistance, authorized by the laws to which this part applies.

Race-conscious measure or program is one that is focused specifically on assisting only DBEs, including women-owned DBEs.

Race-neutral measure or program is one that is, or can be, used to assist all small businesses. For the purposes of this part, race- neutral includes gender-neutrality.

Recipient is any entity, public or private, to which DOT financial assistance is extended, whether directly or through another recipient, through the programs of the FAA, FHWA, or FTA, or who has applied for such assistance.

Secretary means the Secretary of Transportation or his/her designee.

Set-aside means a contracting practice restricting eligibility for the competitive award of a contract solely to DBE firms.

Small Business Administration or SBA means the United States Small Business Administration.

Small business concern means, with respect to firms seeking to participate as DBEs in DOT-assisted contracts, a small business concern as defined pursuant to section 3 of the Small Business Act and Small Business Administration regulations implementing it (13 CFR part 121) that also does not exceed the cap on average annual gross receipts specified in Sec. 26.65(b).

Socially and economically disadvantaged individual means any individual who is a citizen (or lawfully admitted permanent resident) of the United States and who is--

(1) Any individual who a recipient finds to be a socially and economically disadvantaged individual on a case-by-case basis.

(2) Any individual in the following groups, members of which are rebuttably presumed to be socially and economically disadvantaged:

(i) ``Black Americans,'' which includes persons having origins in any of the Black racial groups of Africa;

(ii) ``Hispanic Americans,'' which includes persons of Mexican, Puerto Rican, Cuban, Dominican, Central or South American, or other Spanish or Portuguese culture or origin, regardless of race;

(iii) ``Native Americans,'' which includes persons who are American Indians, Eskimos, Aleuts, or Native Hawaiians;

(iv) ``Asian-Pacific Americans,'' which includes persons whose origins are from Japan, China, Taiwan, Korea, Burma (Myanmar), Vietnam, Laos, Cambodia (Kampuchea), Thailand, Malaysia, Indonesia, the Philippines, Brunei, Samoa, Guam, the U.S. Trust Territories of the Pacific Islands (Republic of Palau), the Commonwealth of the Northern Marianas Islands, Macao, Fiji, Tonga, Kirbati, Juvalu, Nauru, Federated States of Micronesia, or Hong Kong;

(v) ``Subcontinent Asian Americans,'' which includes persons whose origins are from India, Pakistan, Bangladesh, Bhutan, the Maldives Islands, Nepal or Sri Lanka;

(vi) Women;

(vii) Any additional groups whose members are designated as socially and economically disadvantaged by the SBA, at such time as the SBA designation becomes effective.

Tribally-owned concern means any concern at least 51 percent owned by an Indian tribe as defined in this section.

You refers to a recipient, unless a statement in the text of this part or the context requires otherwise (i.e., `You must do XYZ' means that recipients must do XYZ).

Sec. 26.7 What discriminatory actions are forbidden?

(a) You must never exclude any person from participation in, deny any person the benefits of, or otherwise discriminate against anyone in connection with the award and performance of any contract covered by this part on the basis of race, color, sex, or national origin.
(b) In administering your DBE program, you must not, directly or through contractual or other arrangements, use criteria or methods of administration that have the effect of defeating or substantially impairing accomplishment of the objectives of the program with respect to individuals of a particular race, color, sex, or national origin.

Sec. 26.9 How does the Department issue guidance and interpretations under this part?

(a) This part applies instead of subparts A and C through E of 49 CFR part 23 in effect prior to March 4, 1999. (See 49 CFR Parts 1 to 99, revised as of October 1, 1998.) Only guidance and interpretations (including interpretations set forth in certification appeal decisions) consistent with this part 26 and issued after March 4, 1999 have definitive, binding effect in implementing the provisions of this part and constitute the official position of the Department of Transportation.

(b) The Secretary of Transportation, Office of the Secretary of Transportation, FHWA, FTA, and FAA may issue written interpretations of or written guidance concerning this part. Written interpretations and guidance are valid and binding, and constitute the official position of the Department of Transportation, only if they are issued over the signature of the Secretary of Transportation or if they contain the following statement:

The General Counsel of the Department of Transportation has reviewed this document and approved it as consistent with the language and intent of 49 CFR part 26.

Sec. 26.11 What records do recipients keep and report?

(a) [Reserved]
(b) You must continue to provide data about your DBE program to the Department as directed by DOT operating administrations.

(c) You must create and maintain a bidders list, consisting of all firms bidding on prime contracts and bidding or quoting subcontracts on DOT-assisted projects. For every firm, the following information must be included:

(1) Firm name;

(2) Firm address;

(3) Firm's status as a DBE or non-DBE;

(4) The age of the firm; and

(5) The annual gross receipts of the firm.

Sec.26.13 What assurances must recipients and contractors make?

(a) Each financial assistance agreement you sign with a DOT operating administration (or a primary recipient) must include the following assurance:

The recipient shall not discriminate on the basis of race, color, national origin, or sex in the award and performance of any DOT-assisted contract or in the administration of its DBE program or the requirements of 49 CFR part 26. The recipient shall take all necessary and reasonable steps under 49 CFR part 26 to ensure nondiscrimination in the award and administration of DOT-assisted contracts. The recipient's DBE program, as required by 49 CFR part 26 and as approved by DOT, is incorporated by reference in this agreement. Implementation of this program is a legal obligation and failure to carry out its terms shall be treated as a violation of this agreement. Upon notification to the recipient of its failure to carry out its approved program, the Department may impose sanctions as provided for under part 26 and may, in appropriate cases, refer the matter for enforcement under 18 U.S.C. 1001 and/or the Program Fraud Civil Remedies Act of 1986 (31 U.S.C. 3801 et seq.).

(b) Each contract you sign with a contractor (and each subcontract the prime contractor signs with a subcontractor) must include the following assurance:

The contractor, sub recipient or subcontractor shall not discriminate on the basis of race, color, national origin, or sex in the performance of this contract. The contractor shall carry out applicable requirements of 49 CFR part 26 in the award and administration of DOT-assisted contracts. Failure by the contractor to carry out these requirements is a material breach of this contract, which may result in the termination of this contract or such other remedy as the recipient deems appropriate.

Sec. 26.15 How can recipients apply for exemptions or waivers?

Question and Answer
(a) You can apply for an exemption from any provision of this part. To apply, you must request the exemption in writing from the Office of the Secretary of Transportation, FHWA, FTA, or FAA. The Secretary will grant the request only if it documents special or exceptional circumstances, not likely to be generally applicable, and not contemplated in connection with the rulemaking that established this part, that make your compliance with a specific provision of this part impractical. You must agree to take any steps that the Department specifies to comply with the intent of the provision from which an exemption is granted. The Secretary will issue a written response to all exemption requests.

(b) You can apply for a waiver of any provision of Subpart B or C of this part including, but not limited to, any provisions regarding administrative requirements, overall goals, contract goals or good faith efforts. Program waivers are for the purpose of authorizing you to operate a DBE program that achieves the objectives of this part by means that may differ from one or more of the requirements of Subpart B or C of this part. To receive a program waiver, you must follow these procedures:

(1) You must apply through the concerned operating administration. The application must include a specific program proposal and address how you will meet the criteria of paragraph (b)(2) of this section. Before submitting your application, you must have had public participation in developing your proposal, including consultation with the DBE community and at least one public hearing. Your application must include a summary of the public participation process and the information gathered through it.

(2) Your application must show that--

(i) There is a reasonable basis to conclude that you could achieve a level of DBE participation consistent with the objectives of this part using different or innovative means other than those that are provided in subpart B or C of this part;

(ii) Conditions in your jurisdiction are appropriate for implementing the proposal;

(iii) Your proposal would prevent discrimination against any individual or group in access to contracting opportunities or other benefits of the program; and

(iv) Your proposal is consistent with applicable law and program requirements of the concerned operating administration's financial assistance program.

(3) The Secretary has the authority to approve your application. If the Secretary grants your application, you may administer your DBE program as provided in your proposal, subject to the following conditions:

(i) DBE eligibility is determined as provided in subparts D and E of this part, and DBE participation is counted as provided in Sec. 26.49;

(ii) Your level of DBE participation continues to be consistent with the objectives of this part;

(iii) There is a reasonable limitation on the duration of your modified program; and

(iv) Any other conditions the Secretary makes on the grant of the waiver.

(4) The Secretary may end a program waiver at any time and require you to comply with this part's provisions. The Secretary may also extend the waiver, if he or she determines that all requirements of paragraphs (b)(2) and (3) of this section continue to be met. Any such extension shall be for no longer than period originally set for the duration of the program.

Last updated: Monday, January 5, 2015