Expert Advice

CA State Small Business (SB)/ Disabled Veteran Business Entity (DVBE) First Policy

There are three core benefits of having an Small Business (SB)/ Disabled Veteran Business Entity (DVBE) Certification. The first is a clear and distinct advantage over larger or out-of-state firms when bidding on solicitations valued under $500,000.  Second, with these certifications, you can help buyers and contracting officers meet their participation goals by awarding 25% of their total spending to SB firms and 3% to  DVBE firms. The final benefit is 24 California departments have adopted the SB/DVBE First Policy, requiring them to seek out an SB or DVBE firm before considering other businesses.

This article will discuss the details of California’s SB/DVBE First Policy and how it can benefit your government contracting journey.

What does First Policy mean?

The SB/DVBE First Policy means that participating state departments are required to seek out an SB/DVBE firm before they look to buy elsewhere. Adopting the SB/DVBE First Policy puts more emphasis on the buyers within a department to build a robust list of SB/DVBE firms across a wide array of products and services. 

Which departments use the First Policy?

With 24 state departments officially using this SB/DVBE First Policy, you should familiarize yourself with them. They are listed below:

  • California Air Resources Board
  • California Coastal Commission
  • Department of Community Services & Development
  • Department of Consumer Affairs
  • California Department of Education
  • Fair Political Practices Commission
  • First 5 California
  • Franchise Tax Board
  • California Gambling Control Commission
  • Department of General Services
  • Department of Health Care Services
  • California Highway Patrol
  • Office of the Inspector General
  • Department of Insurance
  • California Military Department
  • California Natural Resources Agency
  • Department of Public Health
  • California Public Utilities Commission
  • Department of Resources Recycling and Recovery (CalRecycle)
  • California Science Center
  • California Student Aid Commission
  • Department of Technology
  • State Water Resources Control Board
  • Department of Veterans Affairs

How does the SB/DVBE First Policy acquisition method work? 

The SB/DVBE First Policy allows a buyer to reach out directly to SB/DVBE firms to acquire goods and services between $5,001 and $249,999.99. This means the requirement does not need to be advertised on CaleProcure. The buyer will email the requirement to SB/DVBEs whose United Nations Standard Product and Service Codes (UNSPSC) match the requirement. The buyer then only needs to receive quotes from three  SB/DVBE firms to make an award. This allows the buyer to decide on awards within days or weeks, streamlining the acquisition process.  

Which of the 24 SB/DVBE First Policy Agencies are suitable for your firm?

To answer this question, you should ask yourselves some questions in return. For example, you are a small business firm that operates an IT business that provides hardware/software sales and installation. The questions you should ask are:

  • Which SB/DVBE First Policy departments buy hardware/software and installation services?
  • If all 24 departments buy my services, what are the top 5 departments  that spent the most on my services last year?
  • And finally, are there other departments that might not be using the SB/DVBE First Policy but are buying a great deal of IT hardware/software and installation services that I should know about?

These questions and even more can be answered using the SB/DVBE Procurement Data Dashboards. The dashboards include the following categories: Department Spend, UNSPSC Spend, Top 10 Department Spend, Top 10 UNSPSC Spend and Certified SBE/DVBE Spend Comparison.

To give you an idea of the data available, the below data was pulled from the Procurement Data Dashboard. 

*represents a CA SB/ DVBE First participating agency

We strongly encourage you to investigate the Procurement Data Dashboard to narrow down which SB/DVBE First Policy Departments  are buying the most of your goods and services. After you’ve determined the departments  to target, you should email your capability statement to the department’s  SB/DVBE advocate. You can find a list of SB/DVBE Advocates here. From there, you can begin building relationships with department  buyers, so the next time they need to use the SB/DVBE First Policy, you can be one of the firms they reach out to.

If you are looking for help with finding opportunities in government contracting or want no-cost help to find contracting opportunities, please contact your Norcal APEX Accelerator/ PTAC counselor for assistance or apply for services today!

If you have more questions, please contact us at or 707.267.7561

Authored by: Thomas Burns, Norcal APEX Accelerator Procurement Specialist