DBE Certifications in Maryland

Explore DBE Certification programs available in the state of Maryland

In efforts to increase cooperation between minority-run businesses and the government, the State of Maryland has established the Disadvantaged Business Enterprise (DBE) Certification program. This was established when the Maryland Department of Transportation entered into a Memorandum of Understanding with partnering DBE certifying agencies across the state. The partnering agencies form the Maryland Regional Certification Committee (MRCC).

This program sets annual quotas to dictate the amount of overall Department of Transportation funds that are allocated toward DBE certified (and thus, minority run) businesses. The current requirements of the Maryland Department of Transportation are for 11.7 percent of all Federal Highway Agency contracts to be allocated toward DBE certified businesses and 7.13 percent of Federal Transportation Agency contracts. As a result, this program provides opportunities for ‘disadvantaged’ owners to excel their small businesses with government contracts.

Statewide Certification Programs

Maryland Unified Certification Program (UCP)

To qualify for DBE certification, the business owner should apply through the UCP program. The UCP functions as a “one stop shop” for DBE certification throughout the state of Maryland, so a company can apply once for DBE certification and when granted it applies throughout the state.   In fact, it allows firms interested in seeking certification as both a Minority Business Enterprise (MBE) and Disadvantaged Business Enterprise (DBE) to simultaneously complete the Uniform Certification Application.  Additionally, if you have been granted DBE status in another state, you can apply through the UCP to have it recognized by the state of Maryland.

In order to qualify, the majority owner of the business must be a member of a socially or economically ‘disadvantaged’ group in the United States with legal residence. In addition, the owner must have proof of expertise in the given field of work, as well as maintain a personal net worth below $1,713,333. This number increases slightly each year based on changes to the consumer price index.

Qualifying applicants receive recognition from each state agency that receives federal funding from the U.S. Department of Transportation. This makes it easy for qualified businesses to apply for multiple opportunities.: It is recommended that you save the form to your desktop as you work on completing the entire application and it’s important not to leave any blank answers, or it will kick back the application as unfinished, causing a delay.

There are four steps of the application process:

  1. Complete the UCP certification application and provide the required documents.
  2. An audit of the documentation will be conducted to determine preliminary eligibility.
  3. An on-site visit/review by a UCP Specialist will be performed to determine program compliance and eligibility.
  4. Once eligibility is determined and all program requirements are met a certificate of participation will be issued.

The biggest provider of DBE projects is the Maryland is the Department of Transportation (MDOT) and it requires certification through the UCP. MDOT’s DBE Program was established by the federal government to ensure women- and minority-owned businesses have the opportunity to participate in contracts financed in whole or in part by the U.S. Department of Transportation.

Local and Regional Programs

City of Baltimore – Mayor’s Office of Minority and Women Owned Business Development (MWBD)

MWBD serves as the City of Baltimore’s primary advocate for small, local, minority and women-owned companies including prime contractors, subcontractors, and joint venture partners. MWBD provides support for small, local, minority-owned and women-owned companies seeking to do business with the City of Baltimore by expanding contracting opportunities and increasing the procurement dollars spent with minority and women-owned companies.

Greater Washington, DC Metro Area Transit Authority (WMATA)

Businesses in Maryland can be certified by the WMATA for metro projects and contracts that serve the entire Greater Washington, DC area. Federal law guarantees DBEs prompt payment of undisputed invoices. Your firm can also receive supportive services for free or at reduced cost.

To qualify, a business must be an independent business owned (at least 51%) and controlled by a member or members of a socially or economically disadvantaged group. Individual owners must have a personal net worth not exceeding $1,320,000 (excluding ownership interest in the firm, retirement fund assets, and equity value of primary residence). The firm’s average gross receipts over the last three years must not exceed $22.410 million. There are different size limits for various categories of businesses.

  • Select DBE Online Applications.
  • Then select Become a DDOT Disadvantaged Business Enterprise (DBE).
  • Review the topics ‘Overview’ and ‘Requirements for Applicants’ then select Online Application Form.

You may fill the DDOT Unified Certification Program (UCP) form (online) or download a copy for printing.

Maryland Department of Transportation Office of Minority Business Enterprise (OMBE).

The Maryland Department of Transportation’s (MDOT) Office of Minority Business Enterprise (OMBE) is the State’s Official Certification Agency. 

Firms with Disadvantaged Business Enterprise (DBE) certification may meet minority business participation goals on federally funded contracts issued by the U. S. Department of Transportation which include contracts administered by the Maryland Aviation Administration, the Maryland State Highway Administration and the Maryland Mass Transit Administration.
Firms may hold certification as a Minority Business Enterprise (MBE) in addition to DBE certification. MBE firms are eligible to meet minority business participation goals on State-funded contracts in addition to contracts funded by counties and cities within Maryland that accept MDOT’s certification for their minority business participation programs.

Applicants who submit the Uniform Certification Application are evaluated for eligibility in both the MBE and DBE programs simultaneously. Notify the MBE Officer during the investigation phase of the certification process if you do not want to be considered for MBE certification.

There is no cost to apply for certification as an MBE/DBE.  It takes several months to complete the entire process once a complete application package has been received. Submitting an incomplete application package will delay the overall certification process.  The steps to follow are pretty straightforward:

  1. Application – Applicant submits a complete application and all required supporting documentation.  All applications can be submitted online.
  2. Investigation – An investigator reviews documentation submitted by applicant, conducts an on-site/job-site visit and prepares an investigative report.
  3. Evaluation – MBE Advisory Committee (MBEAC) reviews the investigative report to evaluate whether the applicant firm meets the MBE/DBE/ACDBE program requirement
  4. Determination – MBEAC Chair issues a written determination.

The Maryland Women’s Business Development Center (WBDC)

The WBDC can help small businesses that qualify to get certified as a Women’s Business Enterprise (WBE). This nationally recognized certification is accepted by more than 1,000 corporations representing America’s most prestigious brands, in addition to many states, cities and other entities.

Some of the benefits of WBE certification include invitations to networking events with supplier diversity representatives, contact information for supplier diversity representatives, and opportunities to attend corporate panels, procurement events, and education opportunities. To qualify, your business must be 51% owned, operated and controlled by a woman or women.

Maryland’s WBDC has regional offices in Rockville, Bowie and Frederick MD where you can apply and get help with your certification application. Visit the website for the local addresses here: https://marylandwbc.org/about-us/locations/

Or visit the national page of https://www.wbdc.org/certification-services/ to apply online.

Capital Region Minority Supplier Development Council  (CMSDC)

Businesses in the greater Washington DC region including all of Maryland that are at least 51% owned and operated by one or more ethnic minorities can get an MBE certification from this regional branch of the national organization called the Minority Supplier Development Council (MSDC). The CMSCD offers minority business certifications for companies across Maryland, through its location in Silver Springs. Eligibility is established by conducting a series of screenings, interviews and site visits. Click on this link for more information or to apply: http://www.crmsdc.org/became_certified.php