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Originally enacted in 1982, the United States Department of Transportation’s (USDOT) Disadvantaged Business Enterprise (DBE) program is designed to remedy ongoing discrimination and the continuing effects of past discrimination in federally-assisted highway, transit, airport, and highway safety financial assistance transportation contracting markets nationwide. The primary objective of the DBE program is to level the playing field by providing small businesses owned and controlled by socially and economically disadvantaged individuals a fair opportunity to compete for federally funded transportation contracts.

USDOT’s Operating Administrations (FHWA, FAA and FTA) distribute substantial funds each year to finance construction projects initiated by state and local governments, public transit and airport agencies. USDOT is responsible for ensuring that firms competing for USDOT-assisted projects are not disadvantaged by unlawful discrimination. The USDOT’s most important tool for meeting this requirement has been its DBE program.

Importantly, under the current DBE program language (the “FAST-ACT”), recipients (such as states, counties, cities, transits, etc.) must set overall project participation goals to represent a “level playing field” – the amount of DBE participation they could realistically expect in the absence of discrimination. This goal must be based on demonstrable evidence of the availability of ready, willing and able DBEs to participate on DOT-assisted contracts. The rule gives recipients substantial flexibility in the methods they choose to set overall DBE participation goals.  There remains a nationwide aspirational goal of 10 percent of project funding.

Section C of the Uniform Report is designed to capture information on current actual payments made to DBEs for work performed on ongoing federally-assisted contracts. This payment data provides a “snapshot” of dollars actually paid to DBEs as compared to dollars committed or awarded to DBEs but not yet paid during the reporting period.

As DBE professionals know too well, the required semi-annual DBE report often consumes the personal and professional lives of those overseeing these transportation initiatives. More specifically the critical elements transit agencies need to consider for timely and accurate reporting of the required semi-annual DBE report, include:

  1. A thorough review of every federally funded contract, 
  2. Identification of all firms that are certified as DBE,
  3. An update on all awards and commitments to the DBE firms, and 
  4. The ability to track each payment made to both the prime contractor and all subcontractors.

As one might imagine, this process for a small DBE team within a multi-department organization might mean miscommunication and conflicting perspectives on how all requirements are met and tracked, the oversight of dozens of contracts worth potentially billions of dollars – making effective and accurate [manual] monitoring of every detail a nearly impossible feat.

Community impact is at the heart of all DBE programs and as a result, DBE compliance officials should be equipped with a team and tools to seamlessly manage their efforts to facilitate equity and inclusion in transportation projects.

Effectively complying and supporting federal – and potentially local programs where local funds are used – is a challenging task for any transit authority, large or small. The comprehensive technology offered by B2Gnow and seasoned team make it possible by allowing transit authorities to not only go paperless and grow their programs, but also rapidly generate the required semi-annual DBE report. Moreover, B2Gnow’s powerful software provides transit authorities with the capability to effectively monitor, track, and access key data and reports such as the Compliance Audit Summary, which provides real-time automated DBE certification and compliance tracking including project spend tracking and certified contractor utilization through the entire prime-subcontractor chain.

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