FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS

What is a Disadvantaged Business Enterprise (DBE)?
What is the Bridging the Gap Program ?
What is FDOT DBE Certification?
Where can I get a copy of the certification application?
What does the certification process involve?
Will the certification application be processed if all answers are not provided?
Is there a cost to become certified?
Is there a geographic location requirement for certification?
How long does certification last?
Why should I apply for DBE certification?
Must I complete the Affidavit of Certification as well as a Personal Net Worth Statement for each owner?
If I am certified with any other agency as a MBE/WBE, must I complete a DBE application with FDOT?
What are the regulations governing the DBE Program?
What is the difference between MBE and DBE Certification?
What are the goals and objectives of the FDOT DBE Program?
Who qualifies to be a Disadvantaged Business Enterprise?
How can I apply for DBE certification in Florida?
I need help filling out the application, is there anyone I can contact?

 


What is a Disadvantaged Business Enterprise (DBE)?
A Disadvantaged Business Enterprise (DBE) is a for-profit, small business that has at least 51% ownership by an individual or members of a socially and economically disadvantaged group; African-American, Hispanic, Native American, Asian-Pacific, Subcontinent Asian American, or Women.  The definitions of “small business” and “socially disadvantaged” are both determined by the Small Business Administration (SBA). Additional eligibility criteria for DBEs are included on the FDOT’s website at http://www.dot.state.fl.us/equaloportunityoffice/dbeprogramfaq.shtm .

What is the Bridging the Gap Program?
A program whose purpose is to build effective working relationships between leaders of mature established companies and emerging small DBEs in order for the latter to benefit from the knowledge and experience of the established mentor companies.

What is FDOT DBE Certification?
FDOT DBE Certification is the process which the businesses seeking designation as a DBE are evaluated by the FDOT. If the businesses meet the criteria, they become certified..


Where can I get a copy of the certification application?
Click here to download the DBE certification application.


What does the certification process involve?
The certification application is first assigned to an Intake Analyst to review for completeness of information. The Intake Analyst works with the applicant to obtain any missing information and prepares the application for submission to the Certification Officer. The Certification Officer reviews the application, conducts a site visit and issues a recommendation to accept or deny the application for DBE eligibility. A management committee determines the final decision for approval or denial, based upon the officer's recommendations and findings. If the application is approved, a "certification letter" is issued to the applicant. If the application is denied, the applicant is given an opportunity to appeal the certification denial decision.

Will the certification application be processed if all answers are not provided? 
Yes, however, an incomplete application will take longer to process. It is important that all answers are completed accurately. If a question is not applicable, then indicate “Not Applicable” or “N/A”.

Is there a cost to become certified?
No. There is no cost for the certification process.

Is there a geographic location requirement for certification?
No.

How long does certification last?
Certification is ongoing, however, once certified, the business will be required to submit an annual "Affidavit of Continuing Eligibility" and supporting documentation on the anniversary date of its original certification.  This form affirms there is no change that has occurred that impacts the company’s DBE status.

Why should I apply for DBE certification?
DBE goals are established for projects funded by the federal government. If you are interested in these contracts, you should apply for FDOT DBE certification.

Must I complete the Affidavit of Certification as well as a Personal Net Worth Statement for each owner?
Yes, those persons who are identified as social and economic disadvantaged individuals that make up 51 percent of the firms ownership are required to complete the affidavit.

If I am certified with any other agency as a MBE/WBE, must I complete a DBE application with FDOT?
Yes, the FDOT does not accept MBE/WBE reciprocal certifications from any other agency. Only FL UCP DBE certifications are accepted by FDOT. 

What are the regulations governing the DBE Program?
The DBE Program is a federal program operating under the guidance of the U.S. Department of Transportation. Authorization for the program comes from Title 49 of the Code of Federal Regulation Part 26 (49 CFR 26). As a recipient of federal transportation funds, the Florida Department of Transportation (FDOT) must comply with the requirements of 49 CFR 26.  For more information about the DBE program visit U.S. DOT's Office of Small and Disadvantaged Business Website, or FDOT's Equal Opportunity Office (EOO).

What is the difference between MBE and DBE Certification? 
The Department has two different types of minority business programs. One is the Minority Business Enterprise (MBE) program, which applies to all state agencies and is administered by the Office of Supplier Diversity. The other is the Disadvantaged Business Enterprise (DBE) program. The DBE program applies only to the FDOT, and is limited to highway and bridge construction, maintenance, and consultants involved in planning, design, right of way and construction inspection, and other federally funded contracts. The Department puts forth great effort to educate Minority Businesses on these two separate and distinct programs.

COMPARE THE TWO

MBE PROGRAM

Administered by the Florida Department of Management Services
Office of Supplier Diversity

(850) 487-0915

State Program

All State Agencies

Office of Supplier Diversity Certifies

Florida Firms Only

Office of Supplier Diversity

DBE PROGRAM

Administered by the Florida Department of Transportation
Equal Opportunity Office

(850) 414-4747

Federal Program 

Nationwide Firms

Federal Program

Road and Bridge Construction/Consultant

FDOT EOO Website

What are the goals and objectives of the FDOT DBE Program?
The FDOT Equal Opportunity Office seeks to:

  1. Ensure nondiscrimination in the award and administration of contracts.
  2. Create a level playing field on which DBEs can compete fairly for contracts.
  3. Ensure that the Department's DBE Program is narrowly tailored.
  4. Ensure that only firms that fully meet the eligibility standards are permitted to participate as DBEs.
  5. Assist in the development of firms that can compete successfully in the marketplace outside the DBE Program.

Who qualifies to be a Disadvantaged Business Enterprise?
In general, to be eligible for the DBE Program, individuals must be U.S. citizens, or lawfully admitted permanent residents; who own 51%, or more of a "small business"; establish that they are both socially and economically disadvantaged within the definition of the regulation; and show through the regulation standards they control the business. The following general guidelines, taken in part from the applicable regulation (49 CFR Part 26); will help business owners determine whether they are eligible for the DBE Program: 

Ownership - The business must be 51% owned by a socially and economically disadvantaged individual(s).

"Socially Disadvantaged" - You may be eligible if you are a member of one of the following presumptive groups --- Black Americans, Hispanic Americans, Native Americans, Asian-Pacific Americans, Subcontinent Asian Americans, Women and other groups found to be disadvantaged by the Small Business Administration (SBA). Persons who are not members of one of the aforementioned presumptive groups may also be eligible if they establish their "social" and "economic" disadvantaged on an individual basis. More information on how social and economic disadvantaged is determined can be found in Appendix E of 49 CFR Part 26. A determination of whether an individual meets DBE eligibility criteria is made on a case-by-case basis.

Personal Net Worth - Only socially disadvantaged persons having a personal net worth (PNW) of less than $1.32 million will be considered economically disadvantaged. Items excluded from a person's net worth calculation include an individual's ownership interest in the applicant firm, and the equity in his or her primary residence. Additional exclusions are available for owners of airport concessionaires (See 49 CFR Part 23).

Business Size Determination - A firm, including its affiliates must be a small business as defined by SBA size standards. It must not have had annual gross receipts in excess of $22.41 million over the previous three fiscal years. The U.S. Department of Transportation periodically adjusts this threshold for inflation.

Independence - The business must not rely on another firm or firms in such a way as to compromise its independence and control.

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 carry the burden of proof regarding their eligibility and must demonstrate with a preponderance of evidence that they meet all requirements concerning group membership or individual disadvantaged status, business size, independence, ownership, and control.


Additional program requirements and certification procedures are found in Regulation, 49 CFR Parts 23 and 26

How can I apply for DBE certification in Florida?
Businesses interested in becoming DBE certified under the Florida UCP Program must submit a complete DBE application to the FDOT or applicable certifying UCP Member. The application must be signed and notarized. If the firm engages in or intends to engage in:

Primarily road, highway or bridge construction or maintenance related goods or services --- submit the DBE application to the FDOT;

Primarily airport related goods or services --- submit the DBE application to the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) Certifying Member closest to your primary business or with the FAA Certifying Member whom you have an on-going contractual relationship;

Primarily transit related goods and services, including concessions --- submit the DBE application to the Federal Transit Administration (FTA) Certifying Member closest to your primary place of business or with the FTA Certifying Member whom you have an on-going contractual relationship.

When applying to the FDOT, the complete application must be mailed or physically delivered to the Equal Opportunity Office at 605 Suwannee Street, M.S. 65, Tallahassee, Florida 32399. All applications will be reviewed and verified. Additional information may be requested and an on-site interview will be conducted prior to final decision. 

I need help filling out the application, is there anyone I can contact?
The Department has two supportive service providers who can assist you in completing the DBE application and support documents. This service is free to firms who are seeking FDOT DBE certification. Contact either provider listed below: 

Florida State Minority Supplier Diversity Council (FSMSDC) www.FSMSDC.org or call 305-762-6151

Construction Estimating Institute (CEI) The Florida Department of Transportation's Construction Management Development Program and Bond Guarantee Program http://www.cmdp-bgp.com/ or call (800) 423-7058.


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