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Disadvantaged Business Enterprise (DBE) Program

The DBE Program is a program for U.S. Department of Transportation-funded projects.


In order to be certified as a DBE, a business must be:

  • At least 51 percent owned by one or more socially and economically disadvantaged individuals; and
  • Controlled (managed and operated daily) by one or more socially and economically disadvantaged individuals.

In the Federal DBE Program, African Americans, Asian-Pacific Americans, Hispanic Americans, Native Americans, Subcontinent Asian Americans and women are presumed to be socially and economically disadvantaged.

Size Standards

The industry size standards of the Small Business Administration apply to businesses applying for DBE certification. The Table of Small Business Size Standards is available at:

Other Certifications

The Wisconsin Unified Certification Program automatically certifies a firm as a DBE width the City of Madison when the firm is certified as such with the State of Wisconsin Department of Transportation, Dane County, or Milwaukee County.

Program Applications

The federal DBE programs targets highway construction spending to minority-and-women-owned businesses. Projects utilizing funds from the United Stated of Department of Transportation (USDOT). Federal Transit Administration (FTA), and the Madison Metro Transit Utility are required to solicit bids from businesses certified in the DBE program. A responsive bidder on projects with DBE goals must meet the goal using firms certified as DBEs, or show good faith efforts to do so.