A Disadvantaged Business Enterprise (DBE) is a for-profit small business with ownership of at least 51 percent by one or more individuals facing social and economic disadvantages. In the context of a corporation, these individuals are required to possess at least 51 percent ownership in each class of voting stock and 51 percent in the total outstanding stock. Furthermore, the socially and economically disadvantaged owners must have control over the management and day-to-day business operations of the DBE.
Certification eligibility requirements for a Disadvantaged Business Enterprise (DBE) are outlined in 49 CFR, Part 26, Subpart D - Certification Standards. While the following six requirements must be demonstrated by a DBE applicant, it's important to note that they do not encompass all the stipulations in 49 CFR, Part 26.
1. Social and Economic Disadvantage: To qualify, a disadvantaged owner must be a U.S. citizen or resident alien and meet the Federal definition of social and economic disadvantage, as outlined in 49 CFR, Part 26.67. Presumptive groups include women, Black Americans, Hispanic Americans, Native Americans, Asian-Pacific Americans, Subcontinent Asian-Americans, or other minorities determined to be disadvantaged by regulations, or individuals assessed as socially and economically disadvantaged on a case-by-case basis.
Rules governing social and economic disadvantage also extend to the treatment of assets held by married couples, including those in domestic partnerships and civil unions legally recognized under state law. The guidelines additionally clarify the handling of assets transferred at less than fair market value to an immediate family member or a trust for which an immediate family member is a beneficiary, within two years before applying for certification or within two years of a participant’s annual program review.
2. Personal Net Worth (PNW):Individuals seeking DBE status must have a personal net worth (PNW) of less than $1,320,000 to be considered as potentially qualified DBEs. Excluded from the PNW calculation are an individual’s ownership interest in the applicant’s firm and their equity in their primary residence. It's worth noting that if an individual demonstrates the ability to accumulate substantial wealth, their claim of economic disadvantage may be denied, irrespective of a PNW less than $1.32 million.
Business Size Standard: A company, including its affiliates, must meet the Small Business Administration's (SBA) definition of a small business to be eligible. The criterion includes not exceeding annual gross receipts of $23,980,000 in the preceding three fiscal years, with the exception of airport concessions, which have a higher threshold of $56,420,000 in general (though some exceptions may apply). Additionally, different and potentially lower size standards may be applicable based on the nature of the work performed by the business.
Ownership: The entity seeking certification must operate as a for-profit small business, with a crucial requirement that socially and economically disadvantaged individuals possess a minimum of 51 percent ownership and exercise control over both management and day-to-day business operations. Importantly, this ownership cannot be merely nominal; it must reflect substantive and meaningful control.
Independence: The business seeking certification must maintain its independence and control, and it should not be dependent on another firm or firms in a manner that compromises its autonomy and decision-making authority
Control: A disadvantaged owner seeking certification must possess the power to direct or cause the direction of the management and policies of the firm. The owner must also have an overall understanding of, and managerial and technical competence and experience directly related to, the type of business in which the firm is engaged.
Burden of Proof Allocation:
Applicants are responsible for providing evidence to establish their eligibility, and they must demonstrate, with a preponderance of evidence, that they satisfy all the stipulated criteria related to group membership or individual disadvantaged status, business size, independence, ownership, and control.
Further program requirements and details regarding the certification process can be found in Regulation 49 CFR Parts 23 and 26.
No. There is no cost for the certification process.
To access the DBE certification application, please use the following link: DBE Certification Application.
For firms situated outside of Florida seeking DBE certification in the state, an interstate application is required. You can download the interstate application by copying and pasting the following link: Interstate Application.
Certification is a continuous process, and after initial certification, businesses must submit an "Annual Affidavit of No Change" along with supporting documentation on the anniversary date of their original certification. This affidavit serves to confirm that no changes have occurred that would impact the company's DBE status.
If you are seeking contracts for projects funded by the federal government, it is advisable to pursue FDOT DBE certification, as Disadvantaged Business Enterprise (DBE) goals are set for such projects. This certification enhances eligibility and opportunities for participation in these federally funded contracts.
Individuals identified as socially and economically disadvantaged, constituting 51 percent of the firm's ownership, are obligated to fill out the application. For the Net Worth application, please visit [insert link].
The FDOT Equal Opportunity Office aims to:
Becoming a DBE-certified business offers several advantages, including:
The Department maintains a DBE Directory that includes details about all firms eligible to participate as DBEs. This directory provides information such as the firm's name, address, telephone number, and the specific type of work for which the firm has been certified as a DBE. Accessible to the public electronically via the internet, the Florida DBE UCP Directory is regularly updated to reflect any additions or changes. The address for the DBE Directory can be found here.
As a DBE prime contractor, adherence to the good faith efforts requirements outlined in 49 CFR Part 26 is mandatory. When serving as a DBE prime contractor, the entire value of the work performed by the DBE's own forces, along with the work committed to be carried out by DBE subcontractors, must be taken into account.
DBE prime contractors are expected to undertake outreach efforts comparable to other bidders when vying for prime contracts. In cases where they do not fully meet the contract goals, DBE bidders are required to document their good faith efforts.
No, obtaining DBE certification does not necessitate prior pre-qualification. However, contractors aiming to bid on road, bridge, or public transportation construction contracts exceeding $2,000,000.00 are required to undergo pre-qualification with the Department. This pre-qualification process involves submitting an application and, upon approval, results in the issuance of a Certificate of Qualification. This certificate outlines the approved work classes and provides a Maximum Capacity Rating in dollars for each successful applicant.
Effective July 1, 2012, applicants seeking prequalification to bid on road and bridge construction projects less than $1,000,000 can apply by submitting financial statements "Reviewed" by a Certified Public Accountant. All other requirements of Rule 14-22, F.A.C. still apply. Therefore, the application and financial statements must be submitted within 4 months of the applicant's fiscal year end. Applications must be submitted online at FDOT Prequalification for Contractor’s.
The procedure for current DBEs to update their information in the UCP database involves submitting the annual "No Change" Affidavit for Continuing DBE Certification. In the section of the form designated as "Significant Changes," any alterations to the business should be explained on a separate sheet of paper, which must be attached to the document.
Current DBEs seeking additional NAICS codes for their company can initiate the process by submitting the annual "No Change" Affidavit for Continuing DBE Certification. In the designated section of the form titled "New Work Area/Services – REQUEST ADDITIONAL NAICS CODES," applicants should include a request to add specific NAICS code(s). Along with this request, it is required to submit copies of three executed contracts, specifying the relevant NAICS code (if known). Additional guidance and information on NAICS codes can be found on the NAICS website at http://www.sba.gov/size/.
The UCP functions as a "one-stop shopping" platform, streamlining the process for disadvantaged businesses that meet DBE certification requirements. Once certified, these businesses can be utilized to fulfill DBE goal requirements on any project funded by the U.S. Department of Transportation. This centralized approach eliminates the necessity for multiple DBE certifications with recipients of U.S. Department of Transportation funding.
For existing DBE firms, the following documentation must be submitted:
Please note: Firms located outside of Florida that are certified in their home state and applying for DBE certification in Florida must complete an Interstate Affidavit form.
The application submission link is available at http://www.fdot.gov/equalopportunity/dbecertification.shtm.
The processing time is approximately 90 days from the date the completed application and supporting documentation are provided.
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