DBE

Frequently Asked Questions


Q1:  What is the DBE Program?
Q2:  What is a DBE?
Q3:  Why become a certified DBE?
Q4:  What is SOMWBA certification?
Q5:  Who uses SOMWBA certification?
Q6:  Does my firm have to be certified as a DBE to do business with the MBTA?
Q7:  How does DBE certification help my firm get MBTA business?
Q8:  Once SOMWBA-certified, can a firm be assured of getting contracts and subcontracts?
Q9:  Is there a cost to become SOMWBA-certified?
Q10: How long does it take to become certified?
Q11: What is the difference between a DBE and an MBE or WBE?
Q12: If I am registered with SOMWBA as an MBE or WBE, must I complete a DBE application?
Q13: If I am certified as a DBE through another state, must I become a SOMWBA-certified DBE?
Q14: Where do I find more information about becoming a SOMWBA-certified DBE?
Q15: Where can I get a copy of the certification application?
Q16: Where can I get a copy of the directory of certified businesses?
Q17: What is an annual goal?
Q18: What is a contract-specific goal?
Q19: How do contract goals contribute to the annual goal?
Q20: Are proposers required to meet the established contract-specific goal?
Q21: What happens if proposers fail to meet the established goal?
Q22: What is expected of the contractors once a contract is awarded?
Q23: What is required of the prime contractor to maintain contract-specific goals?
Q24: What types of work are available? 
Q25: Can I find MBTA bidding and solicitation information on Comm-Pass?
Q26: Where can I find information on upcoming contract opportunities?

Q1: What is the DBE Program?

A1: The Disadvantaged Business Enterprise (DBE) Program is a federal program operating under the guidance of the US Department of Transportation (DOT). The purpose of the Program is to ensure nondiscrimination in the award and administration of the MBTA’s DOT-assisted contracts. The goals of the Program are to ensure a "level playing field" in which DBEs can compete fairly for DOT-assisted contracts, improve the flexibility and efficiency of the DBE program, and reduce burdens on small businesses. To achieve its goals, the MBTA establishes DBE participation goals for projects funded wholly or in part with federal funds. As such, non-DBE contractors who win large federal contracts are often required to subcontract with a DBE in order to comply with the DOT regulations.

Q2: What is a DBE?

A2: A Disadvantaged Business Enterprise (DBE) is a small business that is at least 51 percent owned and controlled by a minority or woman who is a socially and economically disadvantaged person.

Q3: Why become a certified DBE?

A3: The main reason to become certified is so that your firm can bid and compete on contracts and subcontracts in a fair, competitive environment. By obtaining DBE certification through the State Office of Minority and Women Business Assistance, your participation on many DOT-assisted contracts will count toward the established DBE participation goal.

Q4: What is SOMWBA certification?

A4: The State Office of Minority and Women Business Assistance (SOMWBA) is charged with the responsibility of certifying DBEs and compiling and maintaining a single database of certified DBEs in Massachusetts. SOMWBA employs a one-stop certification procedure through the Unified Certification Program (UCP) that eliminates the need for DBE firms to obtain certifications from multiple agencies within the Commonwealth.

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Q5: Who uses SOMWBA certification?

A5: State agencies and organizations using DBE certification include the MBTA, Executive Office of Transportation (EOT), Massachusetts Highway Department (MHD), the Massachusetts Turnpike Authority (MTA) Central Artery/Third Harbor Tunnel Project (CA/T), the Massachusetts Port Authority (Massport), the Massachusetts Aeronautics Commission (MAC), Worcester Airport, Barnstable Airport, and many Regional Transit Authorities throughout the Commonwealth.

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Q6: Does my firm have to be certified as a DBE to do business with the MBTA?

A6: No. Any firm may compete for any MBTA contract, as a prime contractor, or as a subcontractor, regardless of whether or not the firm is a certified DBE. However, if your firm is seeking to perform work on a contract as a DBE, you must first obtain DBE certification through SOMWBA.

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Q7: How does DBE certification help my firm get MBTA business?

A7: When the MBTA establishes a contract goal for DBE participation, prime contractors seek to identify qualified DBE firms to meet contract goals. In general, prime contractors look for firms that are already SOMWBA-certified as DBEs.

Being a SOMWBA-certified DBE provides your firm with opportunities for future growth by making it easier to market your services to other MBTA contractors. Another advantage is being included in the SOMWBA Directory of Certified DBE Firms. Many contractors use this directory to identify DBEs for participation in their contracts.

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Q8: Once SOMWBA-certified, can a firm be assured of getting contracts and subcontracts?

A8: No. Certification does not guarantee work to a DBE; however, it does enhance a DBEs exposure to contractors who are seeking partnerships and the business community at large. To be successful, a firm must market itself, its personnel and its services, as any good business should.

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Q9: Is there a cost to become SOMWBA-certified?

A9: No. There is no cost for the certification process.

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Q10: How long does it take to become certified?

A10: On average, it takes 30-60 days to process a certification application provided all required documents and complete answers to all questions have been submitted.

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Q11: What is the difference between a DBE and an MBE or WBE?

A11: A Minority Business Enterprise (MBE) is one that is at least 51 percent owned and controlled by a minority, including, but not limited to: African Americans, Hispanic Americans, Portuguese Americans, Native Americans, Asian-Pacific Americans, or Asian-Indian Americans. A Woman-Owned Business Enterprise (WBE) is one that is at least 51 percent owned and controlled by a woman. To become certified as a DBE under federal guidelines, a small business must be at least 51 percent owned and controlled by one or more “socially and economically disadvantaged” individuals. Federal regulations presume that women and minorities, listed above, are socially disadvantaged. Additionally, firms must meet criteria for revenue, staffing and personal worth. More information can be found at the following URL: http://www.somwba.state.ma.us/Content/certification/certification.aspx.

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Q12: If I am registered with SOMWBA as an MBE or WBE, must I complete a DBE application?

A12: Yes. MBEs and WBEs have different and separate certification statuses. In accordance with the Federal regulations, work done by an MBE/WBE cannot be counted as DBE participation. Only certified DBEs are eligible for the benefits of the federal program.

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Q13: If I am certified as a DBE through another state, must I become a SOMWBA-certified DBE?

A13: Yes. Only SOMWBA-certified DBEs are eligible for the benefits of the MBTA’s DBE Program. Other states have different and separate certification statuses.

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Q14: Where do I find more information about becoming a SOMWBA-certified DBE?

A14: To obtain certification, contact SOMWBA by any of the following options:

10 Park Plaza
Suite 3740
Boston, MA 02116
Phone: (617) 727-8692
Fax: (617) 973-8692
Email: wsomwba@massmail.state.ma.us
Website: http://www.somwba.state.ma.us 

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Q15: Where can I get a copy of the certification application?

A15: You can obtain a certification application by visiting the SOMWBA website.

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Q16: Where can I get a copy of the directory of certified businesses?

A16: You can obtain a copy of the DBE directory by visiting the SOMWBA website.

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Q17: What is an annual goal?

A17: Each year the MBTA establishes its overall annual DBE goal for DOT-assisted contracts, for the period of October 1, through September 30. The annual goal takes into account the number of DBEs in the marketplace and the types of work the DBEs perform and compares it to the upcoming opportunities generated by the MBTA and the types of work required for those opportunities. For more information on annual goals, please visit the DOT website.

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Q18: What is a contract-specific goal?

A18: A contract-specific goal is established on an individual DOT-assisted opportunity. The MBTA’s Office of Diversity and Civil Rights’ Government Compliance Unit (Unit) reviews all MBTA procurements to determine DBE participation goals, if applicable. The Unit will establish contract goals only on DOT-assisted contracts with identifiable subcontracting opportunities to ensure DBEs have an equal opportunity to participate in MBTA procurements.

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Q19: How do contract goals contribute to the annual goal?

A19: The attained contract goals are aggregated over the period to which the overall annual goal applies to determine whether the overall annual goal has been met.

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Q20: Are proposers required to meet the established contract-specific goal?

A20: Yes. Proposers are required to meet the established DBE contract goal by partnering with SOMBWA-certified DBEs.

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Q21: What if proposers fail to meet the established goal?

A21: Should the proposers fail to meet the established DBE contract goal, the proposer must document good faith efforts. As detailed in the federal regulations (49 CFR Part 26.53), any bidder who responds to a federally funded solicitation that has an established DBE goal attached to it and wishes to be considered responsive to that solicitation is required to either meet the contract goal or demonstrate that it has made good faith efforts to meet that goal. The MBTA’s Government Compliance Unit and the procuring department must collaborate to determine whether a bidder who has not met the contract goal has sufficiently made and documented good faith efforts. To reach this determination, the Unit and the procuring department evaluate whether or not the bidder has taken all necessary and reasonable steps to achieve the DBE goal, and assess the marketplace to see if there are any ready, willing and available DBEs that could provide quality services on this contract that the bidder did not contact.

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Q22: What is expected of the contractors once a contract is awarded?

A22: All firms, DBE and non-DBE, are expected to meet performance standards as established by contract specifications. This relates to the quality of work done, the submission of reports and written information in a timely manner, and the firm's compliance with applicable regulations and laws.

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Q23: What is required of the prime contractor to maintain contract-specific goals?

A23: The prime contractor must first meet the established DBE contract goals by seeking out and utilizing certified DBEs. Once work begins, the prime contractor is responsible for

  • Ensuring that the DBE goal is maintained throughout the life of the contract;
  • Submitting monthly reports such as payroll, cost and time estimation, and progress reports to monitor DBE participation; and
  • Providing changes in writing to the MBTA’s Government Compliance Unit when changes to the contract are needed which affect DBE participation. 

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Q24: What types of work are available?

A24: Opportunities at the MBTA include the following types of work, which are available to all DBE and non-DBE contractors.

 

Professional Services (Design)

  • Administrative
  • Architect
  • Building Envelope
  • CAD/CADD Experts
  • Catenary/ Electrifications
  • Chemical Engineer
  • Civil Engineer
  • Construction Inspector
  • Data Processing Experts
  • Draftsmen
  • Ecologist
  • Ecologist/ Environmentalist
  • Economist Electrical Engineer
  • Electrical Engineer
  • General Engineering
  • Engineering Technician
  • Estimators
  • Geologist
  • Graphic Designers
  • Hydraulic Engineer
  • Hydrologist
  • Interior Designers
  • Landscape Architects
  • Mechanical Engineers
  • Mining Engineer
  • Oceanographers
  • Planner: Urban/ Regional
  • Plumbing Engineers  Sanitary Engineer
  • Signal Engineer
  • Site Engineer
  • Soils Engineer
  • Specification Writers
  • Structural Engineers
  • Surveyors
  • Systems Engineers/ ITS
  • Telecommunications
  • Track Engineers
  • Transposition Engineers
  • Value Engineers

 

Construction

  • Hard/ Software
  • Gen. Req.
  • Site Construction
  • Concrete
  • Masonry
  • Metals
  • Wood & Plastics Thermal/ Moisture
  • Doors & Windows
  • Finishes
  • Specialties
  • Equipment
  • Furnishings
  • Special Construction
  • Conveying Sys.
  • Mechanical
  • Electrical

 

Materials (Goods and Services)

  • Automotive / Bus Parts and Service
  • Computer Services and Supplies
  • Fuel and Lubricants
  • Industrial Supplies
  • Marketing and Promotional
  • Railcar Maintenance Parts
  • Surplus
  • Clothing and Uniforms
  • Fare Media
  • Health and Medical
  • Maintenance of Way
  • Office Supplies and Services
  • Revenue Supplies and Services
  • Other

 

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Q25: Can I find MBTA bidding and solicitation information on Comm-Pass?


A25: No. The MBTA does not currently advertise its bidding solicitation information on Comm-Pass.

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Q26: Where can I find information on upcoming contract opportunities?

A26: You may visit the MBTA website to register to receive solicitation information.

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Company Registration
Materials Mgmt Invitations for Bid
Const & Prof Services Bids

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