The US Department of Transportation’s Disadvantaged Business Enterprise (DBE) program is designed to help remedy the effects of current and past discrimination for contractors on federally-assisted highway, transit, airport, and highway projects.
The program certifies small businesses owned and controlled by socially and economically disadvantaged individuals in order to help provide them a fair opportunity to compete on these projects. It is mandated by the Federal Government but implemented on the level of each US State.
The process to get certified, can be challenging and time-intensive. That’s why we’re here to help! Work with our Procurement Specialists for personalized, one-on-one assistance on the DBE application.
DBE Eligibility Requirements
Firms that meet the requirements found in title 49 of the Code of Federal Regulations (CFR), Part 26 can be certified as a DBE to work on transportation projects in the state of California. The requirements include, but are not limited to, the following:
- The disadvantaged individual must be a U.S. citizen (or legal resident) and be a member of a socially and economically disadvantaged group.
- The disadvantaged individual applying must have a personal net worth (PNW) of less than $1,320,000. Items excluded from personal net worth calculation include an individual’s ownership interest in the applicant firm and his or her equity in their primary residence.
- The firm must be a for-profit business with a three- year gross receipts average under $28.48M (Effective March 1, 2022 adjusted from $26.29 million). The firm also must not exceed the Small Business Administration (SBA) size standards in 13 CFR part 121 for the type of work it performs. The socially and economically disadvantaged DBE owner(s) must own at least a 51% interest, and have managerial and operational control of the business operations; the firm must not be tied to any individuals or other firms in such a way as to compromise its independence and control.
- The socially and economically DBE owner(s) must possess the power to direct or cause the direction to the management and policies of the firm and to make day-to-day, as well as long- term decisions on matters of management, policy and operations.
- If state or local law requires a particular license or other credential to own, control and/or operate a certain type of business, then the owner(s) of the DBE firm must possess that required license or credential.
To start the DBE certification process, you must apply online with one of the certifying members of the California Unified Certification Program (CUCP). It can take up to 90 days to process and screen your DBE application once a complete application is received. The time to process may be reduced if all required information is included or if additional requests for information from certification staff are returned quickly.
We’ve compiled some important resources to help get you started with the application process.