The new rule will improve the inclusion of small, disadvantaged businesses in infrastructure opportunities and in airport concessions 

The US Department of Transportation (USDOT) has issued a final rule that updates the Disadvantaged Business Enterprise (DBE) programme and Airport Concessions DBE (ACDBE) programme regulations. The two Congressionally mandated programmes were created over 40 years ago to address and remedy the continuing effects of past discrimination against small businesses owned and controlled by minorities, women, and other socially and economically disadvantaged individuals and continue today to prevent and address ongoing discrimination.

The major objectives of this final rule include modernising existing principles to: improve provisions for the benefit of programme participants, reduce burdens on firms and recipients, grow firm capacity and owner wealth, and improve programme integrity, visibility, and data collected by the USDOT. 

Across the US, the programme is implemented by 53 departments of transportation (including the District of Columbia, Puerto Rico, and US Virgin Islands), over 500 transit agencies, and 3,200 eligible airport sponsors, 400 of which also operate an ACDBE programme. There are nearly 50,000 certified DBEs and 3,500 certified ACDBEs, and many participate on federally assisted aviation, highway, and transit projects as well as airport concession opportunities in nearly every jurisdiction, the department said. 

“Our department believes in making sure that small and disadvantaged businesses, which have historically faced discrimination, can have a fair chance to compete for federally funded transportation work. We are proud to announce a major package of improvements to modernise and streamline the rules around these programmes, which are already vital but have the potential to do even more to level the playing field.

“Through this rule change, we’ve addressed many of the challenges DBEs and ACDBEs have faced over the years, and we’re excited that these businesses can now more efficiently and effectively compete for infrastructure projects and airport concessions – something that’s especially important now as President Biden leads the biggest investment in American infrastructure in generations,” said US Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg.

Key changes made to the DBE and ACDBE programmes include several provisions that will have a direct impact on eligible firms and the contractors that hire them, such as streamlining the DBE and ACDBE certification and eligibility process, modernising the rules for counting participation by DBE material suppliers and clarifying terminology, and strengthening monitoring and prompt payment requirements.

PANYNJ has a 30% ACDBE target for concession operations
PANYNJ has a 30% ACDBE target for concession operations Port Authority of New York and New Jersey