The Federal Highway Administration is making $10 million in fiscal year 2021 funding available from its Disadvantaged Business Enterprise/Supportive Services or DBE/SS program to help eligible small businesses compete for federal highway contracts in 45 states, as well as Washington, D.C., Puerto Rico, and the U.S. Virgin Islands.
[Above image by Ohio DOT]
“With these funds, state transportation departments will help minority- and women-owned businesses across the country create jobs and better compete for resources for transportation projects nationwide,” explained Stephanie Pollack, FHWA’s deputy director, in a statement.
She added that the $1.2 trillion Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act or IIJA – enacted in November 2021 – would continue funding the DBE/SS program from FY 2022 through 2026. That funding – provided to state departments of transportation, the District of Columbia, Puerto Rico, and the U.S. Territories – supports programs that provide training and assistance to DBEs to improve their ability to compete on federally assisted contracts.
FHWA has promoted the participation of DBEs in federal-aid highway contracts through state-managed programs since 1982. This most recent tranche of DBE/SS funds is the latest in an ongoing effort to help state DOTs train certified DBE firms on a wide array of business management practices to improve their ability to compete for federally assisted contracts as prime contractors and subcontractors.
FHWA reiterated that DBEs are for-profit, small business owned, and controlled by minorities, women, or other socially and economically disadvantaged individuals or – in the case of a corporation – one in which 51 percent of the stock is owned by one or more such individuals.
[Editor’s note: Testimony presented during a House Transportation & Infrastructure Committee hearing in September 2020 highlighted how minority- and women-owned firms benefit from the federal DBE programs.]
The agency said it distributes DBE/SS funds each year based on statements of work submitted by state DOTs, the District of Columbia, Puerto Rico and the U.S. Territories, and using an administrative formula to determine funding for each recipient. This year, FHWA received 48 submissions from 45 states, the District of Columbia, Puerto Rico, and U.S. Virgin Islands.