Disadvantaged Business Enterprise (DBE) Program

The Disadvantaged Business Enterprise (DBE) Program is a series of requirements of 49 CFR Part 26 "Participation by Disadvantaged Business Enterprises in U.S. Department of Transportation (DOT) Financial Assistance Programs."

The DBE Program creates a level playing field on which disadvantaged businesses can compete fairly. The Program ensures that qualified businesses have an equal opportunity to compete for, and participate in, the performance of all DOT-funded contracts and subcontracts. It also assures that all contracts and procurements will be administered without discrimination on the basis of race, color, sex, or national origin.


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Does your business qualify as a DBE?

In order to meet the eligibility standarps of the DBE Program, your small business must be:

  1. At least fifty-one percent (51%) owned by one or more individuals who are both socially and economically disadvantaged (or, in the case of a corporation, one or more socially and economically disadvantaged individuals must own fifty-one percent (51%) of the stock)

    AND 

  2. One or more socially and economically disadvantaged individuals who own it must control the management and daily business operations of your small business.

What is a "Socially and Economically Disadvantaged Individual" under the DBE program?

The assumption is that an individual is both socially and economically disadvantaged if s/he is a citizen, or lawfully admitted permanent resident of the United States, AND is:

  • Black American 
  • Hispanic American 
  • Native American 
  • Asian-Pacific American 
  • Subcontinent Asian American 
  • Woman 
  • A member of any additional group that is designated as socially and economically disadvantaged by the Small Business Administration 

Additionally, an individual can demonstrate that s/he is socially and economically disadvantaged on a case-by-case basis.

Note: An individual cannot be presumed economically disadvantaged if s/he has a personal net worth exceeding $1.32 million. This net worth includes any and all income properties, but excludes the individual's ownership interests in the small business concern and his or her primary residence.

How can I get certified as a DBE?

The are two ways to obtain application materials.

  1. Many certification sites have their own web address. There is usually a DBE Program link among the list of features. The DBE application can be downloaded from this location. 
  2. Application materials can also be obtained directly from the certification site by faxing requests on company letterhead to the designated DBE Officer. The fax should declare that the applying vendor "wants to be DBE certified" and that the vendor is "requesting a Schedule A application." 

After the application package has been submitted, the applying vendor should be prepared to present the following supplemental materials (in order to expedite the process, these materials can also be submitted along with the application package):

  1. Profile of business/vendor (organization description) 
  2. Proof of vendor's ethnicity/gender (i.e. birth certificate) 
  3. List of vendor's business clients 
  4. Three years of recent tax returns (business and/or personal taxes) 
  5. Vendor's "Articles of Incorporation" (if applicable) 
  6. Applicant's "corporate meeting" list, if applicable (an agenda for your first corporate meeting) 
  7. Stock transfer letter, including a list the first stock(s) issued 

Following submission and processing of the vendor's application package, the DBE Officer will schedule a site visit. Your DBE Certification will be determined following this site visit.

Once your disadvantaged business has been certified, you are then able to work for DBE contractors. You will receive information about appropriate DBE meetings and contracts out for bid. Your business will also be listed in a Directory of Certified Firms.

Where can I get DBE certified?

Listed below are a few of the places where your small business can apply for certification (note this information is subject to change):

  • CALIFORNIA DEPARTMENT OF TRANSPORTATION (CALTRANS)
    Office of Business & Economic Opportunity - MS 79
    1823 - 14th Street
    Sacramento, CA 95814
    Phone: (916) 324-1700 or (866) 810-6346
    Fax: (916) 324-1862
    Email: DBE_Certification@dot.ca.gov
    Website: caltrans.ca.gov 
  • CITY OF LOS ANGELES
    Office of Contract Compliance
    Centralized Certification
    1149 S. Broadway Street, Suite 300
    Los Angeles, CA 90015
    Phone:(213) 847-2684
    Fax: (213) 847-2777
    Email: bca.certifications@lacity.org
    Website: bca.lacity.org 
  • LOS ANGELES COUNTY METROPOLITAN TRANSPORTATION AUTHORITY (METRO)
    Diversity and Economic Opportunity Department
    One Gateway Plaza
    Los Angeles, CA 90012
    Phone: (213) 922-2600
    Fax: (213) 922-7660
    Email: certificationunit@metro.net
    Website: mta.net

 

    Questions regarding DBE certification should be directed to the California Unified Certification (CUCP) website:  http://www.californiaucp.org

    Click here for DBE-SBE Presentation

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