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 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.

WisDOT followed its public participation and public notice procedures to provide the opportunity for public comment. The final FFY 2023-2025 WisDOT transit proposed DBE goal was submitted to the Federal Transit Administration on August 1, 2022.

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. The WisDOT transit website has information on transit procurement procedures.

State program

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


WisDOT Compliance Manager

Becky Soderholm​
Wisconsin Department of Transportation
Bureau of Transit, Local Roads, Railroads and Harbors
(608) 266-1650​