Changes to the DBE Program

Recently, the US DOT rescinded the Disadvantaged Business Enterprise (DBE) program waiver previously granted to Caltrans on August 7, 2008. That waiver allowed race conscious contract goals to be limited to only four groups referred to as UDBEs; we’ll call that the Old DBE Program. With rescission of the waiver, contract goals for federally funded projects authorized on and after July 1, 2012 must include ALL DBE groups (African Americans, Asian Pacific Americans, Native Americans, Women, Hispanic Americans, Subcontinent Asian Americans, and any other groups whose members are certified as socially and economically disadvantaged); we’ll call this the New DBE Program.

As directed in a June 15, 2012 letter from the Federal Highway Administration (FHWA), Caltrans is transitioning to the New DBE Program which applies to Caltrans and Local Agency transportation projects funded by FHWA.

Caltrans has secured concurrence from FHWA to allow for continued authorization of projects under the condition that they will be advertised under the New DBE Program. This agreement is reflected in the following 3 project authorization scenarios:

1. Project is authorized by FHWA prior to July 1, 2012

If practical, these projects should use contract goals that include all certified DBEs and not just UDBEs. If it is not practical to do this, these projects should be advertised as soon as possible under the Old DBE Program by applying contract goals only to UDBEs. However, projects advertised after August 17, 2012 must use contract goals that include all certified DBEs. For projects advertised after August 17, 2012, contract goals cannot be limited to UDBEs.

2. Project is authorized by FHWA between July 1, 2012 and September 30, 2012

Projects may be authorized under the Old DBE Program procedures on the condition that, PRIOR TO ADVERTISING, bid documents must be revised to comply with the New DBE Program such that contract goals include all certified DBEs. In addition to submitting the normal Request for Authorization (RFA) documentation, local agencies will be asked to attach a certification letter acknowledging that the local agency has read and understood the New DBE Program Office Bulletin, and that failure to comply with the New DBE Program will make the agency’s project ineligible for federal funds.

3. Project is authorized by FHWA after October 1, 2012:

All FHWA federally funded projects must comply with the New DBE Program requirements PRIOR TO AUTHORIZATION.

Implementation Policies

An Office Bulletin has been released outlining our policy and procedures for the implementation of the New DBE Program for Local Assistance Federal-aid Projects, the various LAPM exhibits affected by this change have been updated, and a Certification Letter has been developed for use by the local agencies.

Office Bulletin website:

Certification Letter:  DBECert_Letter

If you have any questions, please contact the District DBE Coordinator, Jim Day (530-741-5116) or DLAE, John Hoole (530-741-5450).

About John Hoole

John, as the District Local Assistance Engineer, is responsible for the administration of the Local Assistance Program in District 3, which covers local and regional agencies in eleven Sacramento Valley and Northern Sierra Counties. He supervises a group of 10-12 Engineers and Planners who ensure delivery of State and Federal funds to the locals. His experience in the District includes Design, Project Management, and Programming, and prior to the District he worked as a Transportation Engineer with the Federal Highway Administration.

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