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Title 49

Displaying title 49, up to date as of 9/14/2021. Title 49 was last amended 9/13/2021.

Title 49

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Subpart A - General
§ 26.1 What are the objectives of this part?

This part seeks to achieve several objectives:

(a) To ensure nondiscrimination in the award and administration of DOT-assisted contracts in the Department's highway, transit, and airport financial assistance programs;

(b) To create a level playing field on which DBEs can compete fairly for DOT-assisted contracts;

(c) To ensure that the Department's DBE program is narrowly tailored in accordance with applicable law;

(d) To ensure that only firms that fully meet this part's eligibility standards are permitted to participate as DBEs;

(e) To help remove barriers to the participation of DBEs in DOT-assisted contracts;

(f) To promote the use of DBEs in all types of federally-assisted contracts and procurement activities conducted by recipients.

(g) To assist the development of firms that can compete successfully in the marketplace outside the DBE program; and

(h) To provide appropriate flexibility to recipients of Federal financial assistance in establishing and providing opportunities for DBEs.

[64 FR 5126, Feb. 2, 1999, as amended at 79 FR 59592, Oct. 2, 2014]

§ 26.3 To whom does this part apply?

(a) If you are a recipient of any of the following types of funds, this part applies to you:

(1) Federal-aid highway funds authorized under Titles I (other than Part B) and V of the Intermodal Surface Transportation Efficiency Act of 1991 (ISTEA), Pub. L. 102-240, 105 Stat. 1914, or Titles I, III, and V of the Transportation Equity Act for the 21st Century (TEA-21), Pub. L. 105-178, 112 Stat. 107. Titles I, III, and V of the Safe, Accountable, Flexible, Efficient Transportation Equity Act: A Legacy for Users (SAFETEA-LU), Pub. L. 109-59, 119 Stat. 1144; and Divisions A and B of the Moving Ahead for Progress in the 21st Century Act (MAP-21), Pub. L. 112-141, 126 Stat. 405.

(2) Federal transit funds authorized by Titles I, III, V and VI of ISTEA, Pub. L. 102-240 or by Federal transit laws in Title 49, U.S. Code, or Titles I, III, and V of the TEA-21, Pub. L. 105-178. Titles I, III, and V of the Safe, Accountable, Flexible, Efficient Transportation Equity Act: A Legacy for Users (SAFETEA-LU), Pub. L. 109-59, 119 Stat. 1144; and Divisions A and B of the Moving Ahead for Progress in the 21st Century Act (MAP-21), Pub. L. 112-141, 126 Stat. 405.

(3) Airport funds authorized by 49 U.S.C. 47101, et seq.

(b) [Reserved]

(c) If you are letting a contract, and that contract is to be performed entirely outside the United States, its territories and possessions, Puerto Rico, Guam, or the Northern Marianas Islands, this part does not apply to the contract.

(d) If you are letting a contract in which DOT financial assistance does not participate, this part does not apply to the contract.

[64 FR 5126, Feb. 2, 1999, as amended at 79 FR 59592, Oct. 2, 2014]

§ 26.5 What do the terms used in this part mean?

Affiliation has the same meaning the term has in the Small Business Administration (SBA) regulations, 13 CFR part 121.

(1) Except as otherwise provided in 13 CFR part 121, concerns are affiliates of each other when, either directly or indirectly:

(i) One concern controls or has the power to control the other; or

(ii) A third party or parties controls or has the power to control both; or

(iii) An identity of interest between or among parties exists such that affiliation may be found.

(2) In determining whether affiliation exists, it is necessary to consider all appropriate factors, including common ownership, common management, and contractual relationships. Affiliates must be considered together in determining whether a concern meets small business size criteria and the statutory cap on the participation of firms in the DBE program.

Alaska Native means a citizen of the United States who is a person of one-fourth degree or more Alaskan Indian (including Tsimshian Indians not enrolled in the Metlaktla Indian Community), Eskimo, or Aleut blood, or a combination of those bloodlines. The term includes, in the absence of proof of a minimum blood quantum, any citizen whom a Native village or Native group regards as an Alaska Native if their father or mother is regarded as an Alaska Native.

Alaska Native Corporation (ANC) means any Regional Corporation, Village Corporation, Urban Corporation, or Group Corporation organized under the laws of the State of Alaska in accordance with the Alaska Native Claims Settlement Act, as amended (43 U.S.C. 1601, et seq.).

Assets mean all the property of a person available for paying debts or for distribution, including one's respective share of jointly held assets. This includes, but is not limited to, cash on hand and in banks, savings accounts, IRA or other retirement accounts, accounts receivable, life insurance, stocks and bonds, real estate, and personal property.

Business, business concern or business enterprise means an entity organized for profit with a place of business located in the United States, and which operates primarily within the United States or which makes a significant contribution to the United States economy through payment of taxes or use of American products, materials, or labor.

Compliance means that a recipient has correctly implemented the requirements of this part.

Contingent Liability means a liability that depends on the occurrence of a future and uncertain event. This includes, but is not limited to, guaranty for debts owed by the applicant concern, legal claims and judgments, and provisions for federal income tax.

Contract means a legally binding relationship obligating a seller to furnish supplies or services (including, but not limited to, construction and professional services) and the buyer to pay for them. For purposes of this part, a lease is considered to be a contract.

Contractor means one who participates, through a contract or subcontract (at any tier), in a DOT-assisted highway, transit, or airport program.

Days mean calendar days. In computing any period of time described in this part, the day from which the period begins to run is not counted, and when the last day of the period is a Saturday, Sunday, or Federal holiday, the period extends to the next day that is not a Saturday, Sunday, or Federal holiday. Similarly, in circumstances where the recipient's offices are closed for all or part of the last day, the period extends to the next day on which the agency is open.

Department or DOT means the U.S. Department of Transportation, including the Office of the Secretary, the Federal Highway Administration (FHWA), the Federal Transit Administration (FTA), and the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA).

Disadvantaged business enterprise or DBE means a for-profit small business concern -

(1) That is at least 51 percent owned by one or more individuals who are both socially and economically disadvantaged or, in the case of a corporation, in which 51 percent of the stock is owned by one or more such individuals; and

(2) Whose management and daily business operations are controlled by one or more of the socially and economically disadvantaged individuals who own it.

DOT-assisted contract means any contract between a recipient and a contractor (at any tier) funded in whole or in part with DOT financial assistance, including letters of credit or loan guarantees, except a contract solely for the purchase of land.

Good faith efforts means efforts to achieve a DBE goal or other requirement of this part which, by their scope, intensity, and appropriateness to the objective, can reasonably be expected to fulfill the program requirement.

Home state means the state in which a DBE firm or applicant for DBE certification maintains its principal place of business.

Immediate family member means father, mother, husband, wife, son, daughter, brother, sister, grandfather, grandmother, father-in-law, mother-in-law, sister-in-law, brother-in-law, and domestic partner and civil unions recognized under State law.

Indian tribe means any Indian tribe, band, nation, or other organized group or community of Indians, including any ANC, which is recognized as eligible for the special programs and services provided by the United States to Indians because of their status as Indians, or is recognized as such by the State in which the tribe, band, nation, group, or community resides. See definition of “tribally-owned concern” in this section.

Joint venture means an association of a DBE firm and one or more other firms to carry out a single, for-profit business enterprise, for which the parties combine their property, capital, efforts, skills and knowledge, and in which the DBE is responsible for a distinct, clearly defined portion of the work of the contract and whose share in the capital contribution, control, management, risks, and profits of the joint venture are commensurate with its ownership interest.

Liabilities mean financial or pecuniary obligations. This includes, but is not limited to, accounts payable, notes payable to bank or others, installment accounts, mortgages on real estate, and unpaid taxes.

Native Hawaiian means any individual whose ancestors were natives, prior to 1778, of the area which now comprises the State of Hawaii.

Native Hawaiian Organization means any community service organization serving Native Hawaiians in the State of Hawaii which is a not-for-profit organization chartered by the State of Hawaii, is controlled by Native Hawaiians, and whose business activities will principally benefit such Native Hawaiians.

Noncompliance means that a recipient has not correctly implemented the requirements of this part.

Operating Administration or OA means any of the following parts of DOT: the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA), Federal Highway Administration (FHWA), and Federal Transit Administration (FTA). The “Administrator” of an operating administration includes his or her designees.

Personal net worth means the net value of the assets of an individual remaining after total liabilities are deducted. An individual's personal net worth does not include: The individual's ownership interest in an applicant or participating DBE firm; or the individual's equity in his or her primary place of residence. An individual's personal net worth includes only his or her own share of assets held jointly or as community property with the individual's spouse.

Primary industry classification means the most current North American Industry Classification System (NAICS) designation which best describes the primary business of a firm. The NAICS is described in the North American Industry Classification Manual - United States, which is available on the Internet at the U.S. Census Bureau Web site:

Primary recipient means a recipient which receives DOT financial assistance and passes some or all of it on to another recipient.

Principal place of business means the business location where the individuals who manage the firm's day-to-day operations spend most working hours. If the offices from which management is directed and where the business records are kept are in different locations, the recipient will determine the principal place of business.

Program means any undertaking on a recipient's part to use DOT financial assistance, authorized by the laws to which this part applies.

Race-conscious measure or program is one that is focused specifically on assisting only DBEs, including women-owned DBEs.

Race-neutral measure or program is one that is, or can be, used to assist all small businesses. For the purposes of this part, race-neutral includes gender-neutrality.

Recipient is any entity, public or private, to which DOT financial assistance is extended, whether directly or through another recipient, through the programs of the FAA, FHWA, or FTA, or who has applied for such assistance.

Secretary means the Secretary of Transportation or his/her designee.

Set-aside means a contracting practice restricting eligibility for the competitive award of a contract solely to DBE firms.

Small Business Administration or SBA means the United States Small Business Administration.

SBA certified firm refers to firms that have a current, valid certification from or recognized by the SBA under the 8(a) BD or SDB programs.

Small business concern means, with respect to firms seeking to participate as DBEs in DOT-assisted contracts, a small business concern as defined pursuant to section 3 of the Small Business Act and Small Business Administration regulations implementing it (13 CFR part 121) that also does not exceed the cap on average annual gross receipts specified in § 26.65(b).

Socially and economically disadvantaged individual means any individual who is a citizen (or lawfully admitted permanent resident) of the United States and who has been subjected to racial or ethnic prejudice or cultural bias within American society because of his or her identity as a members of groups and without regard to his or her individual qualities. The social disadvantage must stem from circumstances beyond the individual's control.

(1) Any individual who a recipient finds to be a socially and economically disadvantaged individual on a case-by-case basis. An individual must demonstrate that he or she has held himself or herself out, as a member of a designated group if you require it.

(2) Any individual in the following groups, members of which are rebuttably presumed to be socially and economically disadvantaged:

(i) “Black Americans,” which includes persons having origins in any of the Black racial groups of Africa;

(ii) “Hispanic Americans,” which includes persons of Mexican, Puerto Rican, Cuban, Dominican, Central or South American, or other Spanish or Portuguese culture or origin, regardless of race;

(iii) “Native Americans,” which includes persons who are enrolled members of a federally or State recognized Indian tribe, Alaska Natives, or Native Hawaiians;

(iv) “Asian-Pacific Americans,” which includes persons whose origins are from Japan, China, Taiwan, Korea, Burma (Myanmar), Vietnam, Laos, Cambodia (Kampuchea), Thailand, Malaysia, Indonesia, the Philippines, Brunei, Samoa, Guam, the U.S. Trust Territories of the Pacific Islands (Republic of Palau), Republic of the Northern Marianas Islands, Samoa, Macao, Fiji, Tonga, Kirbati, Tuvalu, Nauru, Federated States of Micronesia, or Hong Kong;

(v) “Subcontinent Asian Americans,” which includes persons whose origins are from India, Pakistan, Bangladesh, Bhutan, the Maldives Islands, Nepal or Sri Lanka;

(vi) Women;

(vii) Any additional groups whose members are designated as socially and economically disadvantaged by the SBA, at such time as the SBA designation becomes effective.

(3) Being born in a particular country does not, standing alone, mean that a person is necessarily a member of one of the groups listed in this definition.

Spouse means a married person, including a person in a domestic partnership or a civil union recognized under State law.

Transit vehicle manufacturer means any manufacturer whose primary business purpose is to manufacture vehicles specifically built for public mass transportation. Such vehicles include, but are not limited to: Buses, rail cars, trolleys, ferries, and vehicles manufactured specifically for paratransit purposes. Producers of vehicles that receive post-production alterations or retrofitting to be used for public transportation purposes (e.g., so-called cutaway vehicles, vans customized for service to people with disabilities) are also considered transit vehicle manufacturers. Businesses that manufacture, mass-produce, or distribute vehicles solely for personal use and for sale “off the lot” are not considered transit vehicle manufacturers.

Tribally-owned concern means any concern at least 51 percent owned by an Indian tribe as defined in this section.

You refers to a recipient, unless a statement in the text of this part or the context requires otherwise (i.e., ‘You must do XYZ’ means that recipients must do XYZ).

[64 FR 5126, Feb. 2, 1999, as amended at 64 FR 34570, June 28, 1999; 68 FR 35553, June 16, 2003; 76 FR 5096, Jan. 28, 2011; 79 FR 59592, Oct. 2, 2014]

§ 26.7 What discriminatory actions are forbidden?

(a) You must never exclude any person from participation in, deny any person the benefits of, or otherwise discriminate against anyone in connection with the award and performance of any contract covered by this part on the basis of race, color, sex, or national origin.

(b) In administering your DBE program, you must not, directly or through contractual or other arrangements, use criteria or methods of administration that have the effect of defeating or substantially impairing accomplishment of the objectives of the program with respect to individuals of a particular race, color, sex, or national origin.

§ 26.9 How does the Department issue guidance and interpretations under this part?

(a) Only guidance and interpretations (including interpretations set forth in certification appeal decisions) consistent with this part 26 and issued after March 4, 1999 express the official positions and views of the Department of Transportation or any of its operating administrations.

(b) The Secretary of Transportation, Office of the Secretary of Transportation, FHWA, FTA, and FAA may issue written interpretations of or written guidance concerning this part. Written interpretations and guidance are valid, and express the official positions and views of the Department of Transportation or any of its operating administrations, only if they are issued over the signature of the Secretary of Transportation or if they contain the following statement:

The General Counsel of the Department of Transportation has reviewed this document and approved it as consistent with the language and intent of 49 CFR part 26.

[72 FR 15617, Apr. 2, 2007]

§ 26.11 What records do recipients keep and report?

(a) You must transmit the Uniform Report of DBE Awards or Commitments and Payments, found in Appendix B to this part, at the intervals stated on the form.

(b) You must continue to provide data about your DBE program to the Department as directed by DOT operating administrations.

(c) You must create and maintain a bidders list.

(1) The purpose of this list is to provide you as accurate data as possible about the universe of DBE and non-DBE contractors and subcontractors who seek to work on your Federally-assisted contracts for use in helping you set your overall goals.

(2) You must obtain the following information about DBE and non-DBE contractors and subcontractors who seek to work on your Federally-assisted contracts:

(i) Firm name;

(ii) Firm address;

(iii) Firm's status as a DBE or non-DBE;

(iv) Age of the firm; and

(v) The annual gross receipts of the firm. You may obtain this information by asking each firm to indicate into what gross receipts bracket they fit (e.g., less than $500,000; $500,000-$1 million; $1-2 million; $2-5 million; etc.) rather than requesting an exact figure from the firm.

(3) You may acquire the information for your bidders list in a variety of ways. For example, you can collect the data from all bidders, before or after the bid due date. You can conduct a survey that will result in statistically sound estimate of the universe of DBE and non-DBE contractors and subcontractors who seek to work on your Federally-assisted contracts. You may combine different data collection approaches (e.g., collect name and address information from all bidders, while conducting a survey with respect to age and gross receipts information).

(d) You must maintain records documenting a firm's compliance with the requirements of this part. At a minimum, you must keep a complete application package for each certified firm and all affidavits of no-change, change notices, and on-site reviews. These records must be retained in accordance with applicable record retention requirements for the recipient's financial assistance agreement. Other certification or compliance related records must be retained for a minimum of three (3) years unless otherwise provided by applicable record retention requirements for the recipient's financial assistance agreement, whichever is longer.

(e) The State department of transportation in each UCP established pursuant to § 26.81 of this part must report to the Department of Transportation's Office of Civil Rights, by January 1, 2015, and each year thereafter, the percentage and location in the State of certified DBE firms in the UCP Directory controlled by the following:

(1) Women;

(2) Socially and economically disadvantaged individuals (other than women); and

(3) Individuals who are women and are otherwise socially and economically disadvantaged individuals.

[64 FR 5126, Feb. 2, 1999, as amended at 65 FR 68951, Nov. 15, 2000; 76 FR 5096, Jan. 28, 2011; 79 FR 59593, Oct. 2, 2014]

§ 26.13 What assurances must recipients and contractors make?

(a) Each financial assistance agreement you sign with a DOT operating administration (or a primary recipient) must include the following assurance: The recipient shall not discriminate on the basis of race, color, national origin, or sex in the award and performance of any DOT-assisted contract or in the administration of its DBE program or the requirements 49 CFR part 26. The recipient shall take all necessary and reasonable steps under 49 CFR part 26 to ensure nondiscrimination in the award and administration of DOT-assisted contracts. The recipient's DBE program, as required by 49 CFR part 26 and as approved by DOT, is incorporated by reference in this agreement. Implementation of this program is a legal obligation and failure to carry out its terms shall be treated as a violation of this agreement. Upon notification to the recipient of its failure to carry out its approved program, the Department may impose sanctions as provided for under 49 CFR part 26 and may, in appropriate cases, refer the matter for enforcement under 18 U.S.C. 1001 and/or the Program Fraud Civil Remedies Act of 1986 (31 U.S.C. 3801 et seq.).

(b) Each contract you sign with a contractor (and each subcontract the prime contractor signs with a subcontractor) must include the following assurance: The contractor, sub recipient or subcontractor shall not discriminate on the basis of race, color, national origin, or sex in the performance of this contract. The contractor shall carry out applicable requirements of 49 CFR part 26 in the award and administration of DOT-assisted contracts. Failure by the contractor to carry out these requirements is a material breach of this contract, which may result in the termination of this contract or such other remedy as the recipient deems appropriate, which may include, but is not limited to:

(1) Withholding monthly progress payments;

(2) Assessing sanctions;

(3) Liquidated damages; and/or

(4) Disqualifying the contractor from future bidding as non-responsible.

[79 FR 59593, Oct. 2, 2014]

§ 26.15 How can recipients apply for exemptions or waivers?

(a) You can apply for an exemption from any provision of this part. To apply, you must request the exemption in writing from the Office of the Secretary of Transportation, FHWA, FTA, or FAA. The Secretary will grant the request only if it documents special or exceptional circumstances, not likely to be generally applicable, and not contemplated in connection with the rulemaking that established this part, that make your compliance with a specific provision of this part impractical. You must agree to take any steps that the Department specifies to comply with the intent of the provision from which an exemption is granted. The Secretary will issue a written response to all exemption requests.

(b) You can apply for a waiver of any provision of Subpart B or C of this part including, but not limited to, any provisions regarding administrative requirements, overall goals, contract goals or good faith efforts. Program waivers are for the purpose of authorizing you to operate a DBE program that achieves the objectives of this part by means that may differ from one or more of the requirements of Subpart B or C of this part. To receive a program waiver, you must follow these procedures:

(1) You must apply through the concerned operating administration. The application must include a specific program proposal and address how you will meet the criteria of paragraph (b)(2) of this section. Before submitting your application, you must have had public participation in developing your proposal, including consultation with the DBE community and at least one public hearing. Your application must include a summary of the public participation process and the information gathered through it.

(2) Your application must show that -

(i) There is a reasonable basis to conclude that you could achieve a level of DBE participation consistent with the objectives of this part using different or innovative means other than those that are provided in subpart B or C of this part;

(ii) Conditions in your jurisdiction are appropriate for implementing the proposal;

(iii) Your proposal would prevent discrimination against any individual or group in access to contracting opportunities or other benefits of the program; and

(iv) Your proposal is consistent with applicable law and program requirements of the concerned operating administration's financial assistance program.

(3) The Secretary has the authority to approve your application. If the Secretary grants your application, you may administer your DBE program as provided in your proposal, subject to the following conditions:

(i) DBE eligibility is determined as provided in subparts D and E of this part, and DBE participation is counted as provided in § 26.49;

(ii) Your level of DBE participation continues to be consistent with the objectives of this part;

(iii) There is a reasonable limitation on the duration of your modified program; and

(iv) Any other conditions the Secretary makes on the grant of the waiver.

(4) The Secretary may end a program waiver at any time and require you to comply with this part's provisions. The Secretary may also extend the waiver, if he or she determines that all requirements of paragraphs (b)(2) and (3) of this section continue to be met. Any such extension shall be for no longer than period originally set for the duration of the program.