What is the difference between MBE and DBE Certification?
The Department has two different types of minority 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
the Florida Department of Management Services
of Supplier Diversity
All State Agencies
Supplier Diversity Certifies
Florida Firms Only
Office of Supplier Diversity
the Florida Department of Transportation
Road and Bridge Construction/Consultant
FDOT EOO Website
Q: What are the goals and objectives of the DBE Program?
The Equal Opportunity Office seeks to:
Ensure nondiscrimination in the award and administration of
Create a level playing field on which DBEs can compete
fairly for contracts
Ensure that the Department's DBE Program is narrowly
Ensure that only firms that fully meet the eligibility
standards are permitted to participate as DBEs
Assist in the development of firms that can compete
successfully in the marketplace outside the DBE Program
Q: Where can I find the Code of Federal Regulations that
administers 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 49 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.
You may review the complete regulation at
Q: What is a Disadvantaged Business Enterprise?
A Disadvantaged Business
Enterprise (DBE) is a for-profit, independent small business
concern that is:
At least 51% owned by one or more individuals who are both
socially and economically disadvantaged; and
Whose management and daily business operations are
controlled by one or more of the socially and economically
disadvantaged individuals who own it.
Q: What is the Unified Certification Program (UCP)?
The UCP provides "one-stop
shopping" where disadvantaged businesses that meet the DBE
certification requirements and become certified are eligible to
be used to meet the DBE goal requirements on any project with
funding from the U.S. Department of Transportation.
The UCP eliminates the need for multiple DBE
certifications with recipients of funding from the U.S.
Department of Transportation.
In Florida, DBE UCP
Certifying Members shall make certification decisions on
behalf of all recipients in the state, with respect to
participation in the U.S. Department of Transportation DBE
The UCP shall provide "one-stop shopping" to applicants for
certification, such that an applicant is required to apply
only once for a DBE certification and all recipients in the
state will honor that certification.
All obligations of recipients with respect to certification
and nondiscrimination must be carried out by UCPs, and
recipients may use only UCPs that comply with the
certification and nondiscrimination requirements of 49 CFR
A UCP is not required to process an application for
certification from a firm having its principal place of
business outside the state of Florida if the firm is not
certified by the UCP in their "home state", where it
maintains its principal place of business.
A UCP DBE Directory containing all firms certified by the
Florida DBE UCP Program is available to the public
electronically, on the internet.
The DBE Directory is updated as additions/changes are
made. The web
address for the DBE Directory is
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:
- The business must be 51% owned by a socially and
economically disadvantaged individual(s).
- 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
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
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.
- The business must not rely on another firm or firms in
such a way as to compromise its independence and 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
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.
requirements and certification procedures are found in
Regulation, 49 CFR Parts 23 and 26.
Is there a cost to become DBE certified?
The Florida Department of
Transportation does not charge a fee to become DBE certified.
Q: 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:
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.
Primarily road, highway or bridge construction or
goods or services --- submit the DBE application to the
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
--- 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
<>Q. How do I apply
for Interstate Certification?
A. If you are an existing DBE firm, the following documentation
must be provided:
1. A complete copy of the
application form, all supporting documents, and any other
information you have submitted to your home state or any other
state related to your firm's certification. This includes
affidavits of no change and any notices of changes that you have
submitted, as well as any correspondences concerning your
application or status as a DBE firm.
2. Any notices or correspondence from states other than
your home state relating to your status as an applicant or
certified DBE in those states, including facts and all
documentation concerning if your firm was denied certification
3. If you have filed a certification appeal with DOT,
you must provide your letter of appeal and DOT's response.
4. You must submit the
Interstate Application Affidavit sworn to by the firm's
owners before a person who is authorized by State law to
administer oaths executed under penalty of perjury of the laws
of the United States.
The processing time is approximately 60 days from the date the
completed application and support documentation is provided to
our office. If you
have any questions, please don't hesitate to contact me at the
Q: 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:
Blackmon Roberts Group
or call 877-450-3237
University Construction Management Development Program and
Bond Guarantee Program (CMDP-BGP)
www.cmdp-bgp.com or call
Q: What is the DBE Certification Process?
There are six steps to obtaining DBE Certification:
Application is received.
Application is checked for completeness.
If incomplete, the applicant is sent a letter
requesting missing information.
Once the application is complete an on-site review is
scheduled and conducted at the applicant's office.
During the on-site review, interviews are conducted
with the owners of the firm.
All materials submitted by the applicant and the
on-site report are reviewed by the DBE Certification
Consultant, who determines if the applicant meets the
The DBE Certification Analyst reviews the application
and makes a recommendation on the firm's eligibility for
certification in the DBE program. The DBE Certification
Analyst also reviews the work classification(s) requested
and make a recommendation regarding the adequacy of the
applicant's resources to perform in these work areas.
If the application is approved, the applicant is
notified, in writing, of the certification approval.
The certification approval letter indicates approval
of the firm as a Disadvantaged Business Enterprise (DBE) to
perform work of specific types. The firm must annually
submit an affidavit, personal net worth statement and tax
documentation to the FDOT Equal Opportunity Office by the
certification anniversary date to remain an active DBE.
If an application is denied, the Department issues a denial
letter listing the reasons for the intended denial and provides
information related to the appeal process.
If an application is withdrawn, the applicant is notified, in
writing, of the missing documentation and has up to one year to
provide the requested information necessary to complete the
applicant fails to provide the missing information within one
year, the file is then administratively closed.
Q: How long does it take to get DBE certified?
It takes time to process
an application and to approve certification.
The efforts made to submit a complete application with
all the requested documentation will help decrease the
processing time. In
accordance with the regulation, the Department has 90 days to
process a complete application.
The processing time starts once a complete application is
Q: How long does the DBE certification period last?
As long as a firm
continues to meet the standards established in 49 CFR 26, DBE
certification is ongoing; however, the firm is required to
annually submit an Affidavit of Continuing Eligibility (and
supporting documentation) by the anniversary date of
How can I verify if a business is a certified DBE?
The Department maintains a
DBE Directory identifying all firms eligible to participate as
DBEs. The DBE
Directory lists the firm's name, address, telephone number, and
the type of work the firm has been certified to perform as a
DBE. The Florida DBE
UCP Directory is available to the public electronically, on the
internet. The DBE
UCP Directory is updated as additions/changes are made.
The address for the DBE Directory is
Q: What are the benefits of being a certified DBE?
Some advantages to being a DBE firm include:
DBEs may be used to satisfy a DBE goal on any project with
funding from the U.S. Department of Transportation (i.e.
airports, transit agencies).
DBEs receive statewide exposure for contracting
opportunities through the DBE Directory, which provides one
list of all DBE firms certified in the State of Florida.
Prime contractors and consultants are strongly
encouraged to use the DBE Directory to identify
subcontractors/sub-consultants for their projects.
DBEs may participate in a variety of supportive services
such as training and technical assistance if they are
construction and consulting firms involved in a road,
highway or bridge construction or maintenance related
of these services are at no cost or reduced cost to
Q: Do I have to be prequalified to be DBE certified?
No, a firm is not required
to be prequalified to become DBE certified.
Contractors must be
prequalified with the Department in order to bid for the
performance of road, bridge, or public transportation
construction contracts greater than $250,000.00.
Prequalification is accomplished by using an application
process. The Contractor Prequalification process results in the
issuance of a Certificate of Qualification for each successful
applicant which lists the approved work classes and the Maximum
Capacity Rating in dollars.
Visit the FDOT Contracts Administration website to learn
prequalified in two levels:
Unlimited - This level of qualification allows consultants
to compete for any projects for which they are technically
qualified with the Department. Continued qualification at
this level requires annual submittal of a qualification form
along with proof of insurance and an overhead audit prepared
by an independent CPA.
Minor Projects Only - This level of qualification allows
consultants to compete for minor projects with fees
estimated at or below $250,000. Contract
advertisements identify whether a contract is a minor
project or a major project. Continued qualification at the
minor project level requires annual submittal of a
qualification form along with proof of insurance. A
self-certified overhead report and statement describing the
firm's accounting system is recommended, but not required.
Q: How can I get more information about the DBE Program?
To obtain additional
information on the Florida UCP DBE Program, contact Arthur
Wright at 850-414-4749 or Victoria Smith at 850-414-4746.