Equal Opportunity Office
The Equal Opportunity Office investigates Disadvantaged Business Enterprise (DBE) applicants under the requirements of 49 CFR Part 26 to ensure that only firms owned and controlled by disadvantaged individuals are certified as eligible DBE’s. This site provides application forms, news, current events, and other important information to help businesses working in Florida. In addition, we have a searchable directory of all current Florida DBE firms.
We effectively and efficiently process the application forms firms seeking DBE certification. The DBE Certification is keenly aware of the great confusion existing over the many types of Certifications (DBE, SBE, MWBE, etc.) and which is appropriate when and where. We encourage applicants to research which certification designation(s) would be most beneficial to their firm; review this summary of various certifications to clarify.
For many years, firms seeking DBE certification with FDOT and any other county/city municipalities had to submit separate applications to each agency. In 1999 the U.S. Department of Transportation imposed requirements on States to narrowly tailor their DBE Programs and establish Unified Certification Programs (UCP). Under the Regulation, all direct recipients of funds from the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA), Federal Highway Administration (FHWA), and Federal Transit Administration (FTA) in each state were required to band together and implement a UCP. The UCP provides “one-stop shopping” for DBEs. One-stop-shopping means that an applicant for DBE Certification in Florida will file only one application and go through one certification review to achieve DBE Certification that will be recognized by all recipients of FAA, FHWA and FTA funds in the State. Each State has its own UCP.
In 2004 Florida established its UCP. Each member agreed to DBE Certification procedures, forms and requirements based on mandatory reciprocity among the certifying and non-certifying members in the State. In other words, firms certified as DBE’s within the Florida DBE UCP are eligible to work on any federally funded airport, highway or transit contract as a DBE.
DBE Certification can also mean a business owner is eligible for participation in the Business Development Initiative (BDI), a race and gender-neutral program based primarily on economic criteria. DBE certified businesses can compete on projects reserved under this program. For more information on the DBE Certification Program, please click here.
The DBE Program consists of the BDI, DBE Supportive Services Program, DBE Goals and Participation, and the EOC System.
The BDI is designed to support FDOT's efforts to increase competition, lower prices, and increase support to meet its contracting needs over the next 10 years. The BDI is designed to provide more opportunities and support for small businesses to move from subcontracting and sub consulting to prime contracting and consulting roles.
The initial phase was implemented in fiscal years 2006-07 and 2007-08, with the first six months using District Two as the pilot, followed by the remaining districts in January 2007. During that time, different strategies were implemented to determine if there was result an increase in competition without adversely affecting the end product. Some of the strategies used that would provide an opportunity for businesses who would not typically bid on FDOT contracts are:
- Reserving construction and maintenance contracts for small businesses.
- Waiving performance bond requirements and modifying bid bond requirements for contracts under $250,000.
- Using the modified qualification process instead of our standard prequalification process for construction and maintenance projects.
In March 2009, FDOT received approval from FHWA to use the BDI on federally funded projects, being the first of its kind, nationally, to be considered. For more information, including contracting opportunities, please click here.
FDOT has contracted with three providers to provide these types of services.
The Construction Estimating Institute, the Department's statewide DBE Supportive Services Provider, provides managerial and technical assistance to certified DBEs participating in the highway program, at no cost.
Construction Estimating Institute
5016 Calle Minorga
Sarasota, Florida 34242
Toll Free: (800) 423-7058
The Construction Estimating Institute is the new provider for the Construction Management Development Program and Bond Guarantee Program (CMDP/BGP).
The CMDP is a voluntary program designed to improve and develop skills of owners and managers enabling them to perform successfully on FDOT projects. Courses offered are Business Management, Construction Accounting, Construction Math and Estimating, Contracts, Specifications and Law, Scheduling for FDOT and Plan Reading for FDOT. Once the owner(s) or manager(s) of a DBE firm take the prescribed course(s), the firm will receive a Certificate of Proficiency and will graduate into the BGP.
The BGP is a financial support program, which the State of Florida acts as a second surety, guaranteeing the construction bonds for DBEs working on FDOT projects. Participation in the BGP is limited to those DBEs who have been awarded a Certificate of Proficiency and have documented knowledge of the principles of construction bonding. Services under the BGP include: packaging bond applications, constructionbond principles seminars, and overhead audits, a one-time free service for DBEs seeking pre-qualification as a consultant.
Construction Estimating Institute
5016 Calle Minorga
Sarasota, Florida 34242
Toll Free: (800) 423-7058
The Florida State Minority Supplier Development Council in partnership with Ariel Business Group, the state-wide FDOT DBE Specialized Development Program provider.
The primary goal of the DBE Specialized Development Program is to increase the number of DBEs participating on FDOT contracts and the dollar percentage awarded to DBEs by providing assistance to Prime Contractors and facilitating the development of DBEs to obtain contracts. This effort will be concentrated on the larger contracts identified by the Department including those contracts advanced in Secretary Prasad's 21st Century Transportation Plan.
The FDOT DBE Specialized Development Program will:
- Provide assistance, as directed by the Department, to Prime Contractors who are bidding on or have been awarded contracts identified by the Department as priority projects, including serving as a liaison or facilitator between the Prime Contractor and the DBE.
- Develop and administer a mentor/protégé program designed for established construction firms to move them from bidding as a subcontractor to bidding as a Prime Contractor.
- Provide specialized assistance to Prime Contractors identified by the Department to have had historically low DBE participation on FDOT contracts.
- Identify and provide access to publicly available information technology related training, software and applications that will assist DBEs in increasing their level of technical expertise in handling the day-to-day operations of their businesses with a goal of producing DBEs whose technical bid proposals are sound and free of technical errors.
For more information or assistance regarding the program, visit the FDOT DBE Specialized Development Program on the Internet, click here or at one of the firm's offices:
9499 N.E. 2nd Avenue, #201
Miami, FL 33138
5020 W Cypress Street, # 210
Tampa, FL 33607
In compliance with 49 CFR Part 26, FDOT is required to set an overall goal for DBE participation in its federally assisted contracts. The overall goal must be based on demonstrable evidence of the availability of ready, willing and able DBEs relative to all businesses ready, willing and able to participate on federally assisted contracts. The goal must reflect the determination of the level of DBE participation that one would expect absent the effects of discrimination. The full DBE Goal Methodology criterion can be found in 49 CFR Part 26.45.
The FDOT utilizes a race neutral approach in establishing its DBE goal. Ultimately, FDOT believes it can achieve its DBE goal on federally assisted contracts through normal competitive processes. The overall goal for the DBE program for federal-funded highway contracts is established every three years. More information on the DBE Goals click here.
FDOT implemented the Contractor and Consultant Grading System in 2004-2005. Based on the reported percentages contractors and consultants received a corresponding letter grade (A+ thru F) from the Equal Opportunity Office for anticipated DBE participation. The Grading System strategy is used to ensure that all prime contractors and consultants are recognized regarding DBE participation, and not just those in the upper or lower percentage range.
Both grading scales take into account the normal bell curve distribution for both groups independently. The consultant scale is higher than the contractor scale because there are a higher percentage of DBE sub-consultants available to perform work than DBE subcontractors. More information on the DBE Participation click here.
Investigations and Compliance
The Contractor Compliance Program ensures that Federal contractors and subcontractors performing work on Federal and federally assisted highway contracts comply with nondiscrimination and affirmative action requirements. Through development and management of an effective Contract Compliance Program, the FHWA and STAs are responsible for assuring that Federal contractors and subcontractors do not discriminate in their employment and contracting practices based on race, color, religion, sex, national origin, age or disability. A contractor's minimum EEO requirements are set forth in the contract provisions referenced in Form FHWA-1273 as "Section II, Nondiscrimination." These include acceptance of a general operating policy that prohibits discrimination based on race, color, religion, sex, national origin, age, or disability. For more information, please click here.
Title VI of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 prohibits discrimination on the basis of race, color, or national origin in programs and activities that receive federal financial assistance. This law is enforced by the Civil Rights Center. For more information, please click here.
Equal Employment Opportunity (Title VII) prohibits discrimination in hiring, promotion, discharge, pay, fringe benefits, job training, classification, referral, and other aspects of employment, based on race, color, religion, sex or national origin. The Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) enforces this law. For more information, please click here.