DBE compliance for transit

Disadvantaged Business Enterprise (DBE) provisions apply to United States Department of Transportation (USDOT) assisted contracts for airports, highways and transit. This includes the use of Federal Transit Administration (FTA) planning, capital, and/or operating funds spent on contracts. The FTA requires organizations receiving these federal funds to make efforts to purchase from, or use, DBE firms. A DBE is a for-profit small business that is:

  • At least 51% owned by one or more individuals who are socially or economically disadvantaged or, in the case of a corporation, in which 51% of the stock is owned by one or more such individuals.
  • Controlled (management and daily business operations) by one or more of the socially and economically disadvantaged individuals who own it.

As a recipient of these FTA funds, the Wisconsin Department of Transportation (WisDOT) has a DBE program that addresses FTA funded contracting activities conducted by WisDOT, as well as those of its grant subrecipients.

Policy statement

The objectives of the DBE program are, in part, to:

  • Ensure nondiscrimination in the award and administration of USDOT-assisted contracts
  • Create a level playing field on which DBEs can compete fairly for USDOT-assisted contracts
  • Help remove barriers to the participation of DBEs in USDOT-assisted contracts

This is reflected in the policy adopted by WisDOT.

When entering into grant agreements for FTA assistance, WisDOT and its subrecipients agree to adhere to the DBE requirements (49 CFR Part 26). This is a condition of receiving the federal financial assistance and is assured to in writing. In addition, the requirements apply at the contract level. This means each contract signed with a contractor and each subcontract a prime contractor signs with a subcontractor must include DBE language which states:

The contractor, subrecipient, 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 USDOT-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.​

2023 – 2025 Proposed Transit DBE Goal

The establishment of a three-year DBE participation transit goal is another requirement of the DBE regulation. WisDOT, in accordance with regulations of the U.S. Department of Transportation, 49 CFR Part 26, announces its (3) three-year transit DBE goal is 1.61%, for t​he period beginning October 1, 2022, and ending September 30, 2025.

The goal is for DBE participation on contracts assisted by the Federal Transit Administration awarded by WisDOT and its subrecipients.

The proposed goal and its rationale are available for public review, inspection, and public comment during normal business hours until Wednesday, July 13, 2022.  The final FFY 2023-2025 WisDOT transit DBE goal will be submitted to the Federal Transit Administration by August 1, 2022. 

Comments should be sent to:

Becky Soderholm, Compliance Manager
WI Department of Transportation
4822 Madison Yards Way, 6th Floor South
Madison, WI  53705
Tel: (608) 266-1650

Procurement process

The DBE requirements include provisions that must be addressed in the procurement process. These provisions include required contract clauses, contract goal-setting, and required information from bidders. The required contract clauses address non-discrimination, Transit Vehicle Manufacturer (TVM) certification, termination, and remedies for prime contractors that do not comply. Prompt payment by prime contractors to their subcontractors is also required, including the return of retainage. While separate contract goals are not required on each contract, if a contract specific goal is established, additional information must be collected from bidders prior to contract award.


On a quarterly basis, WisDOT will work with subrecipients of federal transit funding to report contracting activities (items/services purchased) that use FTA funding for construction/facility projects. Examples of contracting activities include consulting, materials, supplies and services. Quarterly reports are due on the 15th of the month following the end of the reporting quarter. Subrecipients with contract specific DBE goals will also be required to report on contracting activities.

1st Quarter – January 1 to March 31 (due April 15)
2nd Quarter – April 1 to June 30 (due July 15)
3rd Quarter – July 1 to September 30 (due October 15)
4th Quarter – October 1 to December 31 (due January 15)

State program

WisDOT is committed to a Civil Rights Program for the participation of Disadvantaged Business Enterprises.