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DBE Program

“This information is being shared with you as a courtesy from the Office of Small Disadvantaged Business Utilization. For additional information about the DBE program, please visit the Departmental Office of Civil Rights websiteIf you have any questions, please reach out to the Office of Civil Rights at (202) 366-4070.”

Definition of a Disadvantaged Business Enterprise (DBE)

DBEs are for-profit small business concerns where socially and economically disadvantaged individuals own at least a 51% interest and also control management and daily business operations.

African Americans, Hispanics, Native Americans, Asian-Pacific and Subcontinent Asian Americans, and women are presumed to be socially and economically disadvantaged.  Other individuals can also qualify as socially and economically disadvantaged on a case-by-case basis.

DBE Certification Criteria:

Apply for DBE Certification:

Each small business who wishes to apply for DBE certification must apply at the state level. Please see link below to the State DBE Program Points of contact.

Each small business must submit an application to their state Uniform Certification Program (UCP), Please note each state application may be different. Please see the link below for an example of a general Uniform Certification Application.

Maintain Certification:

Once certified as a DBE, the small business must maintain that certification yearly. In order to maintain the certification, a small business must submit a No Change Affidavit and Declaration every year on the anniversary of the date of your certification (Note each state form may be different). The No Change Affidavit and Declaration affirms that there have been no changes in the firm's circumstances affecting its ability to meet size, disadvantaged status, ownership or control requirements of the part or any material changes in the information provided in its application form. Please see the general links below for the No Change Affidavit and No Change Declaration. 

Interstate Certification Process:

In response to longstanding concerns of DBEs, the interstate certification provision is designed to make the certification process easier on recipients and certified DBEs. 

Find the interstate certification process description HERE.

Roles and Responsibilities of U. S. Department of Transportation (US DOT) and the State and Local Transportation Agencies:

The DBE program is administered by the state and local territory governments.    

US DOT is responsible for:

  • Developing the rules and regulations for the national DBE program (49 CFR Part 26 A §26.1).
  • Providing guidance and conducting oversight to make sure that these rules and regulations are followed by the recipients of DOT funds (49 CFR Part 26 F §26.101).; and
  • Considering appeals from state/local certification decisions (49 CFR Part 26 E §26.89).

State and local transportation agencies are responsible for:

  • Certify the eligibility of DBE firms to participate in their DOT-assisted contracts (49 CFR Part 26 B §26.21).
  • Establish narrowly-tailored goals for the participation of disadvantaged entrepreneurs (49 CFR Part 26 C §26.45).; and
  • Evaluate their DOT-assisted contracts throughout the year and establish contract-specific DBE subcontracting goals as necessary to achieve the overall goal of the agency (49 CFR Part 26 C). (Note, the level of DBE subcontracting goals may vary; however, by the end of the year, the amount of contract/subcontract awards to DBEs must be consistent with the overall goal).


For questions about the DBE program, please refer to the Office of Civil Rights, DBE program point of contact, Babette Salmon, phone number (202) 366-4070 or email