DBE Program Regulations: Subrecipients

DOT has released Official FAQs on DBE Program Regulations. These questions and answers provide guidance and information for compliance with the provisions under 49 CFR part 26. Like all guidance material, these questions and answers are not, in themselves, legally binding or mandatory, and do not constitute regulations.

Can subrecipients have their own DBE programs and overall goals? If so, who reviews them? (Section 26.21)

  • In another Question and Answer, “Must a primary recipient’s DBE program and goals apply to contracts let by subrecipients?” the Department describes how subrecipients could administer contract goals on their contracts under the umbrella of their primary recipient’s DBE program and overall goals.
  • That Q&A notes that subrecipients are not required to have their own, independent DBE programs and overall goals. However, a subrecipient may — only if permitted by the DOT operating administration providing its financial assistance and subject to the approval of the concerned primary recipient — have its own, independent DBE program and overall goal. Generally, this is an option that would make sense only for larger subrecipients who are receiving considerable amounts of DOT financial assistance.
  • Following coordination with the primary recipient, the subrecipient would submit its DBE program and overall goals to the appropriate DOT operating administration for review and approval, in the same way that primary recipients submit their program and goals for DOT review and approval. A written agreement between the primary recipient and subrecipient is desirable.
  • Subrecipients that have their own DBE programs must participate in their state’s unified certification program (UCP).
  • The amount of DOT financial assistance provided to a subrecipient with its own DBE program via the primary recipient is deleted from the base from which the primary recipient calculates its goals, and the subrecipient’s DBE participation is not counted toward the primary recipient’s DBE participation.
  • If a subrecipient has its own independent DBE program and overall goals, the subrecipient would submit DBE participation reports to both the primary recipient and the DOT operating administration involved, the frequency and content of which would be determined through the subrecipient’s consultation with the primary recipient and DOT operating administration.

Must a primary recipient’s DBE program and goals apply to contracts let by subrecipients? (Section 26.45(a), 26.53)

  • The DBE program and overall goal of a primary recipient (e.g., a state DOT) apply to all the Federal funds that will be expended in DOT-assisted contracts.
  • This includes not only the Federal funds expended in contracts that the primary recipient itself lets, but also the Federal funds that subrecipients let in DOT-assisted contracts.
  • The primary recipient is responsible for administering its DBE program and is legally accountable for expenditure of DOT financial assistance in accordance with Federal requirements.
  • Subrecipients do not have to have their own, independent DBE programs or overall goals, since the primary recipient’s DBE program and overall goals cover the DOT- assisted contracting activities of the subrecipients.
  • However, if a subrecipient is letting a DOT-assisted contract with subcontracting possibilities, then part 26 provisions concerning contract goals apply to that
    These provisions include determining whether race-conscious measures are appropriate for a particular contract. (Contract goals do not apply to certain kinds of contracts in any case, such as contracts for purchases of transit vehicles, or contracts in which there are no realistic subcontracting possibilities.)
  • In a case where it is appropriate for there to be a contract goal on a subrecipient’s contract, the primary recipient may establish the goal for the
    subrecipient. Alternatively, the subrecipient may set the contract goal in consultation with the primary recipient. In either case, the subrecipient would follow the contract award procedures of §26.53.