The Federal Disadvantaged Business Enterprise Program helps small disadvantaged business enterprises compete for transportation contracts funded by the U.S. Department of Transportation. It is intended to:
Federal regulations (Title 49 of the Code of Federal Regulations Part 26) provide the requirements for how state and local governments implement the Federal DBE Program.
The federal government requires state and local agencies to implement the Federal DBE Program if they receive USDOT funds for transportation projects. Much of the federal funding for ODOT transportation projects comes through the Federal Highway Administration. ODOT has been implementing some version of the Federal DBE Program since the 1980s.
Goals for DBE participation on individual federally-funded contracts can be one element of an agency’s operation of the Federal DBE Program.
To be certified as a DBE a firm must be socially and economically disadvantaged. Revenue limits, personal net worth limits and other restrictions apply.
The State of Oregon has a policy of supporting Oregon’s minority business enterprises and woman business enterprises. Eleven Oregon state agencies including ODOT set aspirational targets for MBE/WBE procurement contracts valued at $150,000 or less that might be performed by MBEs/WBEs.
In addition to aspirational targets, the State implements other initiatives to improve opportunities for certified business enterprises, address race and gender-based discrimination and ensure state funds are used to foster an inclusive business climate.
To be certified as an MBE or WBE, a firm must be 51 percent owned and controlled by a socially and economically disadvantaged individual, be properly licensed, be registered with the Secretary of State and meet certain other criteria.
ODOT also operates an Emerging Small Business Program that reserves certain contracting opportunities for ESB bidders. Under the Program, qualified small businesses compete against other small companies for certain ODOT contracts.
There are two tiers of certified ESBs. To be certified as an ESB, a firm must BE below certain annual revenue levels (e.g., $3,399,907 for Tier II construction firms) and employment size (e.g., 30 employees for Tier II firms). The current statute limits a firm’s participation in the program to a maximum of 12 years.
ODOT operates a Small Contracting Program that encourages businesses to bid or propose on small architectural, engineering and land surveying contracts, small construction contracts, and other small purchases. Any company may register to participate in the program.
ODOT staff also offer mentor relationships with businesses to help them gain the skills required to be successful in contracting with ODOT.
ODOT supports small business through other programs such as the Oregon Small Business Initiative and the Project-Specific Mentor-Protégé Program.
ODOT, the Oregon Association of Minority Entrepreneurs and the Oregon-Columbia Chapter of the Associated General Contractors jointly created the Oregon Small Business Initiative. The initiative improves the capability and capacity of contractors working on ODOT projects, including prime contractors, subcontractors, and minority, women, and emerging small businesses. Training, mentoring and networking are offered.
The ODOT Office of Civil Rights has developed a project-specific mentor-protégé program to assist firms in expanding their capacity to perform on larger and more challenging ODOT contracts. Participants in this program can receive training from local experts.