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Frequently Asked Questions

Do I have to be a certified DBE to bid on an MBTA contract?
If I am registered with SDO as an MBE or WBE, do I also have to complete a DBE application?
If I am certified as a DBE through another state, do I have to become a MassUCP-certified DBE?
Once MassUCP-certified, am I guaranteed to win contracts and subcontracts?
How does DBE certification help my firm get MBTA business?
What is an annual goal?
What is a contract-specific goal?
How do contract goals contribute to the annual goal?
Are bidders required to meet the established contract-specific goal?
What if bidders fail to meet the established goal?
What does the prime contractor have to do to maintain contract-specific goals?
What is expected of contractors once a contract is awarded?
What other state agencies use MassUCP certification?


Do I have to be a certified Disadvantaged Business Enterprise (DBE) to bid on an MBTA contract?

No. You do not have to be a certified DBE to bid on an MBTA contract. However, if you want to perform work on a contract as a DBE, you have to be certified first.

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If I am registered with the Supplier Diversity Office (SDO) as a Minority Business Enterprise (MBE) or Women Business Enterprise (WBE), do I also have to complete a DBE application?

Yes. MBEs and WBEs have different certification requirements. According to federal regulations, work done by an MBE/WBE cannot be counted as DBE participation. Only certified DBEs are eligible for the benefits of the program.

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If I am certified as a DBE through another state, do I have to I become a MassUCP-certified DBE?

Yes. Only businesses certified through MassUCP are eligible for the benefits of the program. Other states have different certification requirements.

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Once MassUCP-certified, am I guaranteed to win contracts and subcontracts?

No. Certification does not guarantee any work with the MBTA. 

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How does DBE certification help my firm get MBTA business?

When the MBTA sets a contract goal for DBE participation, prime contractors seek out qualified DBE firms to serve as subcontractors. In general, prime contractors look for firms that are already MassUCP-certified as DBEs.

Certification makes it easier to market your services to other MBTA contractors. Another advantage is being included in the MassUCP/SDO Directory of Certified Businesses. Many contractors use this directory to find DBEs to participate in their contracts.

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What is an annual goal?

Every 3 years, the MBTA establishes its annual DBE goal for USDOT-assisted contracts. The goal is a percentage of the overall dollar amount of the MBTA’s federally funded contracts for the year. 

The goal is determined by comparing the current number of DBEs and the services they perform to the upcoming contracts at the MBTA and the types of work needed for them. 

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What is a contract-specific goal?

A contract-specific goal is a goal set on an individual MBTA contract or bidding opportunity. The MBTA’s Office of Diversity and Civil Rights’ Government Compliance Unit reviews all MBTA procurements to determine DBE participation goals, if applicable. The Unit only sets goals on contracts with clear subcontracting opportunities to ensure DBEs have an equal chance to participate in MBTA procurements.

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How do contract goals contribute to the annual goal?

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

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Are bidders required to meet the established contract-specific goal?

Yes. Bidders are required to meet contract goals by partnering with MassUCP-certified DBEs.

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What if bidders fail to meet the established goal?

As detailed in the federal regulations (49 CFR Part 26.53), any bidder who responds to a solicitation that has an established DBE goal and wishes to be considered for it is required to either meet the contract goal or demonstrate that it has made good faith efforts to meet it. 

The ODCR Government Compliance Unit and the procuring department collaborate to determine whether a bidder has made sufficient good faith efforts to meet the contract goal. They also assess the marketplace to see if there are any ready, willing, and available DBEs that could have provided services on this contract that the bidder did not contact.

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What does the prime contractor have to do to maintain contract-specific goals?

The prime contractor must first meet the established DBE contract goals by finding and subcontracting with 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.
  • Providing written notification to the MBTA’s Government Compliance Unit when changes to the contract affect DBE participation.  

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What is expected of contractors once a contract is awarded?

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

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What other state agencies use MassUCP certification?

A number of state agencies and organizations use DBE certification, including the MassDOT Highway Division, Massachusetts Port Authority (Massport), MassDOT Aeronautics Division, Worcester Airport, Barnstable Airport, and many Regional Transit Authorities throughout the Commonwealth.

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