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Civil Rights Program

Equal Opportunity

"This is one country. It has become one country because all of us and all the people who came here — had an equal chance to develop their talents." (John F. Kennedy)

As leaders for National mobility and stewards for National highway programs, the Federal Highway Administration (FHWA) has an inherent responsibility to ensure that all persons – regardless of race, color, national origin, sex, age, disability or religion, have an equal opportunity to develop their talents and share in the benefits of the transportation investments in our highway program.

Equal Opportunity (EO) programs may be legislatively mandated or developed to address identified needs and cover a wide variety of initiatives to remedy systemic discrimination. Some of the programs that we administer as part of our equal opportunity responsibilities include, but are not limited to:

(USDOT Disadvantaged Business Enterprise (DBE) Program) The DBE program is intended to remedy past and current discrimination against disadvantaged business enterprises, ensure a "level playing field" and foster equal opportunity and nondiscrimination in DOT-assisted contracts, improve the flexibility and efficiency of the DBE program, and reduce burdens on small businesses.

The USDOT DBE Program applies to recipients of the Federal Highway Administration, Federal Transit Administration and Federal Aviation Administration. The implementing regulations for the DBE Program can be found in (49 CFR Part 26) Regulations pertaining to airport concessions can be found in 49 CFR Part 23.)

For FHWA recipients, the DBE Program applies to the amounts made available for any program under Titles I, III, and V of TEA-21 (includes the National Recreational Trails Program). Unless addressed by a United States Court decision (finding a program or its implementation unconstitutional), all contracts funded by highway trust funds including advance construction and State Infrastructure Banks projects regardless of whether they are on or off the National Highway System, are subject to the legislative and regulatory requirements of the DBE Program. FHWA has responsibility for approving each State’s DBE Program and its annual goal methodology, and ensuring compliance with all DBE Program requirements (i.e., through oversight).

The DBE Program also applies to subrecipients (i.e., local agencies, Metropolitan Planning Organizations, et al) where Federal financial assistance is passed through the recipient to other entities.

Historically Black Colleges & Universities and Other Minority Institutions of Higher Education

Executive Orders 13256, 13230, and 13270 are intended to strengthen the capacity of Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCUs), Hispanic Serving Institutions (HSIs), and Tribal Colleges & Universities (TCUs) to provide the highest quality education, and to increase opportunities for these institutions to participate in and benefit from Federal programs, as do other colleges and universities. Each executive department and agency (identified by the Secretary of Education) may enter into appropriate grants, contracts, or cooperative agreements with HBCUs, HSIs & TCUs. Those departments/agencies shall establish an annual plan on how they intend to increase the capacity of HBCUs, HSIs, & TCUs to compete effectively for grants, contracts, or cooperative agreements and to encourage these institutions to participate in Federal programs; and submit an annual performance report on accomplishments resulting from this plan.

The FHWA advances these initiatives through its participation in such programs as the National Summer Transportation Institute and the Summer Transportation Internship Program for Diverse Groups; as well as through contract awards to minority colleges/universities for transportation research and development.

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Page last modified on June 2, 2023
Federal Highway Administration | 1200 New Jersey Avenue, SE | Washington, DC 20590 | 202-366-4000