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Equity Updates from the U.S. Department of Transportation

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The U.S. Department of Transportation (DOT) has committed to an ambitious agenda to advance equity for all and has taken many steps forward to advance this agenda. The following list of recent accomplishments will be updated regularly. Rather than being a complete synopsis, these represent a portion of the actions the Department is taking to advance equity.

Wealth Creation  

Graphic of a stack of coins symbolizing Wealth Creation



January 2022 


Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) integrated the Small Business Program Manager into the Acquisition Strategy Review Board for procurement planning and coordination to help identify small business contracting opportunities. 

OST launched a DOT-wide procurement dashboard to raise awareness of contracting opportunities and drive accountability for meeting small and disadvantaged business goals.  

February 2022 

Federal Highway Administration (FHWA) began tracking the number of residential and non-residential displacements to ensure displacements, especially in communities with Environmental Justice (EJ) concerns, are reduced across all projects and that mitigation measures are in place to minimize impacts of relocation.  

July 2022 

OST issued a Notice of Proposed Rulemaking to modernize the Disadvantaged Business Enterprise (DBE) and Airport Concession DBE (ACDBE) program regulations to help further level the playing field for small disadvantaged businesses. 

September 2022 USDOT Office of Small and Disadvantaged Business Utilization (OSDBU), the U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA) and the US Department of Commerce Minority Business Development Agency (MBDA) announced partnerships to help small and disadvantaged businesses access the resources they need to succeed  

November 2022 

Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) held the first meeting of the Women of Trucking Advisory Board, whose work will support women pursuing careers in trucking, expand scholarship opportunities for women in the trucking industry, and enhance trucking training, mentorship, education, and outreach programs for women. 

December 2022 

Office of Small and Disadvantaged Business Utilization (OSDBU) launched the Master Capacity Building Series - Federal Contracting 101. The initial session hosted more than 500 participants, and the program has reached over 6,400 small and disadvantaged business owners as of June 2023. Technical assistance has contributed to an increase in small disadvantaged business utilization, from 18.2% of DOT direct contract dollars in FY 2021 to 21.25% in FY 2022.

January 2023

The Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) and their partner Historically Black Colleges & Universities (HBCUs) convened the inaugural  FAA-HBCU Aviation Day on Thursday, January 26, 2023.  

April 2023 

Federal Railroad Administration (FRA) established a Small Business Program to increase participation of small businesses, including minority and woman-owned small businesses in publicly funded rail projects. 

Power of Community 

Graphic showing web of interconnected people symbolizing Power of Community
March 2021 Consulted with Federally Recognized Tribes on updates to DOT Tribal Policy & Consultation Plan
June 2021  Reinvigorated USDOT’s programmatic enforcement of Title VI of the Civil Rights Act of 1964.

October 2022 

DOT released a guide on Promising Practices for Meaningful Public Involvement in Transportation Decision-Making to help funding recipients meaningfully involve the public in various stages of transportation decision-making and build their organizational capacities to do so. DOT released version 2 of the meaningful public involvement guide on November 8, 2023.

December 2022  FHWA surveyed State Departments of Transportation (DOTs) and Metropolitan Planning Organizations (MPOs) on their inclusion of quantitative equity screenings and meaningful and representative public participation in their Statewide and Metropolitan Transportation Improvement Programs (S/TIPs) in order to help develop a baseline and work toward achieving the related Key Performance Indicator (KPI).  DOT released a summary of the survey results on November 13, 2023.

February 2023 

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) published a final rule, as required by BIL, updating the Uniform State Highway Safety Grant Program to require NHTSA grant recipients to conduct meaningful public engagement among affected communities, particularly those most significantly impacted by traffic crashes resulting in injuries and fatalities. 

April 2023 

Great Lakes St. Lawrence Seaway Development Corporation (GLS) and the St. Lawrence Seaway Management Corporation, convened the first ever Green Shipping Corridor Network Collaborative Forum with a variety of stakeholders to promote green shipping and environmental justice for the Great Lakes region. 

September 2023 

DOT issued a fact sheet on Title VI and discrimination on the basis of shared ancestry or ethnic characteristics. 

Proactive Intervention, Planning, and Capacity Building 

Graphic of hands shaking symbolizing Proactive Intervention, Planning, and Capacity Building
February 2021  Introduced racial equity and barriers to opportunity as a consideration for awarding discretionary grants. 
November 2021

Began implementation of the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law, which contains historic investments in transportation equity 

Held public meetings on DOT’s implementation of the Justice40 Initiative

February 2022 

OST published a toolkit for planning and funding rural and Tribal electric mobility infrastructure. An updated version of the Charging Forward toolkit was published in May 2023, which includes expanded content on electric transit and micromobility. 

March 2022 

DOT piloted a new approach of releasing combined Notices of Funding Opportunities (NOFOs) to streamline the process for applicants applying for multiple discretionary grant programs. 

April 2022 

OST launched federal partnerships with key agencies making place-based technical assistance investments. 

June 2022 

OST released the DOT Navigator, a new one-stop shop for communities to access DOT technical assistance and capacity building resources and to get more information to help them apply for DOT funding. 

Launched the Reconnecting Communities program to provide planning and construction grants to communities who have been cut off from opportunities by infrastructure projects 

July 2022 

OST calculated baselines of benefits distribution for Justice40 covered programs with at least one round of funding awarded.  

October 2022 

OST launched the Thriving Communities Program to provide hands-on technical assistance and capacity building support to underserved and overburdened communities using DOT funds, and issued a call for projects for place-based initiatives that are co-designed with communities most impacted by poor access and climate change. 

December 2022 USDOT announced $273.9 million in awards from the new Rural Surface Transportation Grant Program (Rural) to help communities around the United States complete transportation projects that will increase connectivity, improve safety and reliability, support regional economic growth, and improve the quality of life for people living in rural areas  
January 2023 The Federal Transit Administration (FTA) announced $20 million in competitive grant funding through FTA's Areas of Persistent Poverty (AoPP) Program which provides more resources to underserved and disadvantaged communities seeking to expand or improve transit systems  

February 2023 

DOT awarded $185 million to disadvantaged communities as part of the Reconnecting Communities Pilot Program to provide planning and construction grants to communities who have been cut off from opportunities by infrastructure projects.  

OST announced $800 million in grant awards for the Safe Streets and Roads for All program to support communities improve roadway safety, especially for the most vulnerable roadway users, benefitting disadvantaged communities who are disproportionately impacted by roadway fatalities. 

March 2023 USDOT announced the new Charging and Fueling Infrastructure (CFI) Discretionary Grant Program NOFO for Fiscal Years 2022 and 2023, making $700 million available to strategically deploy EV charging infrastructure and other fueling infrastructure projects in urban and rural communities in publicly accessible locations, including downtown areas and local neighborhoods, particularly in underserved and disadvantaged communities  
April 2023 USDOT awarded $21.15 million through the first round of funding for the Thriving Communities Program, supporting a total of 64 communities in 42 states, 6 Tribal Nations, and Puerto Rico. This planning, technical assistance, and capacity building support will enable disadvantaged and under-resourced communities to advance a pipeline of transformative infrastructure projects that will increase mobility, reduce pollution, and expand affordable transportation options, connecting communities to the essential opportunities and resources that will help them thrive 

May 2023 

OST launched an online DOT Discretionary Grant Dashboard to make it easier for communities to search the full set of federal transportation grant programs and find those that may align with local needs. 

June 2023 

DOT announced a first-of-its-kind philanthropic collaboration with the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation to leverage and expand technical assistance opportunities for DOT grantees and potential applicants to deepen community engagement, resource community-based organizations, and build local capacity. 

July 2023 

OST published the joint FY 2023 NOFO for the Reconnecting Communities and Neighborhoods (RCN) Program, making up to $3.16 billion available for planning activities and capital construction projects that that advance community centered connection. 

September 2023 

DOT participated in a convening of the interagency Thriving Communities Network, bringing together governmental, non-profit, academic, community-based and philanthropic partners to leverage and align place-based technical assistance efforts. 

Expanding Access 

Graphic of key symbolizing Expanding Access

March 2022 

FHWA advanced Complete Streets as the default design approach and as a transformative strategy in which the transportation network is planned, designed, built, operated, and maintained to enable safe mobility and access for all road users. 

October 2022 

DOT announced the “TIFIA 49 Program” that offers low-cost and flexible financing for transit and Transit-oriented Development (TOD) projects at up to 49% of eligible project costs through DOT’s Transportation Infrastructure Finance and Innovation Act (TIFIA) program, a higher level of financing that will help more projects get off the ground. 

The Federal Highway Administration (FHWA) released its Vulnerable Road User Safety Assessment Guidance to State DOTs which aims to ensure the inclusion of project elements that proactively address racial equity, access for elderly people and people with disabilities, workforce development, and economic development, and that remove barriers to opportunity and accessibility  

On October 27, 2022, the FTA convened the Coordinating Council on Access and Mobility (CCAM), and officially adopted the 2023-2026 CCAM Strategic Plan  

December 2022 

FTA announced 15 projects in 9 states that will receive approximately $686 million under the new All Stations Accessibility Program to make transit rail stations built before passage of the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) fully accessible to people with disabilities. 

January 2023 

DOT encouraged discretionary grant project sponsors to identify how their project will reverse or mitigate how the community is experiencing disadvantage. 

FHWA released the Speed Safety Camera Program Planning and Operations Guide for state and local governments aimed at reducing traffic fatalities and serious injuries resulting from speeding related crashes as part of a broader speed management program – especially in school areas and construction zones. 

February 2023 

FTA awarded its Mobility, Access & Transportation Insecurity: Creating Links to Opportunity Research and Demonstration Program to explore strategies to improve people’s mobility and access to daily needs and evaluate outcomes and impacts upon individuals and communities. 

May 2023 

OST launched the Equitable Transportation Community (ETC) Explorer tool, an interactive mapping tool to understand where transportation insecurity, defined as limited transportation access and safety combined with high cost burden, is most acute across the country. 

OST began piloting a transportation cost burden measure, using existing data sources in the ETC Explorer, to prioritize transportation investments. 

Institutionalizing Equity 

Graphic of equity scale symbolizing Institutionalizing Equity
March 2021 Established the Equity Leadership Team & the Equity Task Force to lead the Department’s equity efforts 
May 2021 Published a Request for Information asking the public for comments about transportation equity 

March 2022 

DOT established equity as one of the Department’s fiscal year (FY) 2022-2026 Strategic Goals

April 2022 

DOT released the Department’s Equity Action Plan, establishing a foundation for DOT’s path towards building a transportation system that works for all people. 

May 2022 

DOT reestablished the Advisory Committee on Transportation Equity to provide independent advice on DOT equity programs. 

December 2022 

Issued a Department-wide Secretarial Order formalizing the Equity Council via DOT Order 1000.17 to institutionalize equity in DOT’s policies and programs. 

June 2023 

DOT hosted a Department-wide equity summit for DOT employees, organized by the DOT Equity Community of Practice to share best practices to advance equity. 

Have an idea to help advance transportation equity? Want to partner on one of these actions? Email us at to share your thoughts.

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