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Frequently Asked Questions

DOT= Department of Transportation
SBA= Small Business Administration
PNW= Personal Net Worth
DBE= Disadvantaged Business Enterprise
MBE= Minority Business Enterprise
WBE= Women's Business Enterprise
EPA= Environmental Protection Agency
OSBP= Office of Small Business Programs (formerly the Office of Small and Disadvantaged Business Utilization)
SRF= State Revolving Fund


Certification

  1. What are the EPA DBE certification requirements?
  2. I hold a state DOT DBE certification, should I submit an application to EPA to get DBE certified?
  3. I hold a DBE certification from an entity EPA recognizes as being acceptable for establishing MBE or WBE status under its DBE program. Do I need to contact OSBP to get a certificate of proof that I am also considered EPA DBE certified?
  4. If I meet the EPA DBE certification requirements, can I send in a DBE certification application even if I have not attempted to be certified by another entity?
  5. Does EPA accept DOT's DBE certification (with U.S. citizenship) even though DOT's PNW threshold exceeds EPA's $750K limit?
  6. My firm currently holds a DBE certification that did not have PNW certification criteria; can I still be considered an EPA DBE?
  7. Does EPA maintain a database of certified firms?
  8. Can a contractor exclude or reject a firm that is not DBE certified at the time of procurement?
  9. How do I verify that an entity is certified under the DBE rule?


Tribes

  1. I represent a Tribe. Does EPA offer training on the DBE program?
  2. Do Tribes and Territories have to negotiate fair share objectives/goals?
  3. Can a Tribe use the PL-93-638 (Self Determination Act) to certify a tribal member owned company?
  4. Is a tribal company with revenue that approaches $2 million considered a MBE/WBE under the EPA DBE program?
  5. If a Tribe wants to certify local companies what are its options?


SRF

  1. When does an SRF loan recipient negotiate its goals?
  2. What DBE program-related requirements should a SRF grant recipient communicate/provide to its loan recipients? Is information material available that summarizes the requirements for loan program recipients?
  3. When reporting MBE/WBE utilization under the EPA State Revolving Fund Program, is it acceptable to claim MBE and WBE participation generated from sources beyond the EPA capitalization amount(s) of the EPA grant?


Outreach

  1. Who is responsible for assuring that the DBEs contacted for outreach purposes and being reported on EPA Form 5700-52A (MBE/WBE report) satisfies EPA's DBE certification criteria?
  2. Where can one find DBE prime and subcontractors to satisfy the DBE outreach requirement?


Misc.

  1. How do I contact my EPA Regional Small Business Coordinator?
  2. Does a DBE have to be on the bidders list to receive a contract?
  3. Is a prime contractor who does not make any equipment, supply, construction or service procurements required to conduct the Good Faith
  4. If a recipient wants to have the Fair Share Objectives waived, what must they do?
  5. What DBE program requirements should be included in the solicitations and contracts issued by EPA grant recipient and loan recipients? Is sample language available?


Question:

What are the EPA DBE certification requirements?

Answer:

  1. An entity must establish that it is at least 51% owned and/or controlled by socially and economically disadvantaged individuals who are of good character and are citizens of the United States.
  2. An individual claiming economic disadvantaged status must have an initial and continued personal net worth of less than $750K.


Question:

I hold a state DOT DBE certification, should I submit an application to EPA to get DBE certified?

Answer:

No. EPA accepts state implemented DOT DBE certifications (with U.S. citizenship). EPA also accepts SBA 8(a) program certifications and SBA Small Disadvantaged Business (SDB) program self-certifications; Tribal, State and local government certifications, as long as their standards for certification meet or exceed EPA's; and independent private organization certifications as long as their standards for certification meet or exceed EPA's. If a firm holds a certification from one or more of the entities, it is considered acceptable for establishing MBE or WBE status under EPA's DBE program and no other action needs to be taken.


Question:

I hold a DBE certification from an entity EPA recognizes as being acceptable for establishing MBE or WBE status under its DBE program. Do I need to contact OSBP to get a certificate of proof that I am also considered EPA DBE certified?

Answer:

No. EPA only accepts DBE certification applications from firms that have first attempted to be certified by SBA or DOT, or a Tribal, State, or local government, or by an independent private organization, and were unsuccessful in that attempt.


Question:

If I meet the EPA DBE certification requirements, can I send in a DBE certification application even if I have not attempted to be certified by another entity?

Answer:

No. EPA only accepts DBE certification applications from firms that have first attempted to be certified by SBA or DOT, or a Tribal, State, or local government, or by an independent private organization, and were unsuccessful in that attempt.


Question:

Does EPA accept DOT's DBE certification (with U.S. citizenship) even though DOT's PNW threshold exceeds EPA's $750K limit?

Answer:

Yes. EPA accepts DOT's DBE certification as acceptable in establishing MBE/WBE status. DOT and SBA are the only entities from which EPA will accept certifications regardless of their PNW threshold limit.


Question:

My firm currently holds a DBE certification that did not have PNW certification criteria; can I still be considered an EPA DBE?

Answer:

No. EPA only accepts DBE certification from entities that hold certification which include PNW criteria that meets or exceeds EPA's criteria.


Question:

Does EPA maintain a database of certified firms?

Answer:

No. Since EPA accepts certifications from DOT and SBA, we do not maintain a separate database at this time. To find more information on how to find certified firms using the DOT and SBA databases, please visit http://epa.gov/osbp/pdfs/dbe/dbe_cert_process.pdf.


Question:

Can a contractor exclude or reject a firm that is not DBE certified at the time of procurement?

Answer:

This is based on the state's procurement guidelines. EPA cannot dictate the state's procurement process but in order for the firm to be included in the MBE/WBE goals for the reported procurement, the firm must be DBE certified. If the firm is used, and it is not DBE certified, it cannot be included in the MBE/WBE reporting.


Question:

How do I verify that an entity is certified under the DBE rule?

Answer:

EPA suggests you request the firm's certification letter with their bid documents, or reference the database of certified firms that is maintained by the firm's certifier. If the firm holds a certification from an entity that EPA recognizes as being acceptable for establishing MBE or WBE status under its DBE program, it is considered certified under the DBE rule.


Question:

I represent a Tribe. Does EPA offer training on the DBE program?

Answer:

Yes. The National Partnership for Environmental Technology Education (PETE) has entered into a multi-year contract with the EPA to develop a nationwide Tribal training program for the Office of Grants and Debarment (OGD) and the Office of Small Business Programs (OSBP). This cutting-edge program provides a multi-faceted approach to provide Tribes, U.S. Territories and Insular Areas with training in the proper management of EPA funds through assistance awards, and EPA's Disadvantaged Business Enterprise (DBE) rule. For more information, visit www.petetribal.org.


Question:

Do Tribes and Territories have to negotiate fair share objectives/goals?

Answer:

Yes, as of May 28, 2011, Tribes, and Trust Territories are required to propose and negotiate their Fair Share Objectives/goals every three years, or more frequently if MBE and WBE availability has changed significantly since the goals were last negotiated with and accepted by EPA.


Question:

Can a Tribe use the PL-93-638 (Self Determination Act) to certify a tribal member owned company?

Answer:

The Indian Self-Determination Act, as it relates to the EPA DBE program, is applicable to the Good Faith Efforts portion of the rule pursuant to 40 CFR 33.304. If the Tribe has an established certification process, the certification is considered acceptable in establishing MBE/WBE status under the EPA DBE program if the certification criteria meets or exceeds EPA's, which includes the $750K PNW threshold.


Question:

Is a tribal company with revenue that approaches $2 million considered a MBE/WBE under the EPA DBE program?

Answer:

The amount of revenue generated by a firm has no bearing on whether or not it can be certified under the EPA DBE program. The tribal firm can be counted if it holds a certification that meets or exceeds EPA's requirements. If the firm is denied certification, it may seek certification from EPA as the EPA DBE certification does not have a revenue size standard. However, the owner will still need to prove economic disadvantage by having a PNW less than $750K (not including the value of his/her home).


Question:

If a Tribe wants to certify local companies what are its options?

Answer:

A Tribe does not have to gain approval from EPA to certify local companies. However, in order for the tribally certified firms to count towards EPA MBE/WBE goals, the certification criteria must meet or exceed EPA's.


Question:

When does an SRF loan recipient negotiate its goals?

Answer:

When the SRF loan recipient's procurement type and relevant marketplace is different than the SRF Grant Recipient, the loan recipient negotiates the goals with the SRF Grant Recipient (not with EPA). Negotiation must be completed within 120 days and should include supporting documentation justifying the proposed goals.


Question:

What DBE program-related requirements should a SRF grant recipient communicate/provide to its loan recipients? Is information material available that summarizes the requirements for loan program recipients?

Answer:

When notifying SRF loan applicants about their Federal requirements under the DBE rule, the SRF grant recipient should develop or modify their existing boilerplate language to include the following items: (a) a listing of socioeconomic cross-cutting authorities (i.e., statutes and executive orders); (b) reference to and need for compliance with EPA's DBE Rule (40 CFR Part 33); (c) compliance with the non-discrimination clause listed in Appendix A of EPA's DBE Rule; and (d) a listing and brief description of the required Federal EPA Forms 6100-3 and 6100-4 that the loan recipient must complete and submit to the SRF grant recipient.

Federal boilerplate language for SRF Consultants and Contractors may be limited to Federal Requirements in (a) through (d) above (for SRF loan recipients) plus the following additional Federal requirements: (e) full compliance by the SRF Consultants and Contractors with 40 CFR Part 33 prior to an award of a consultant or construction contract; (f) compliance with the three contract administration requirements specified in Section 33.302 of the DBE rule.

Note: If a state SRF Program has yet to develop or modify its Federal SRF boilerplate to address EPA's DBE rule requirements, it may wish to contact other states for model language.


Question:

When reporting MBE/WBE utilization under the EPA State Revolving Fund Program, is it acceptable to claim MBE and WBE participation generated from sources beyond the EPA capitalization amount(s) of the EPA grant?

Answer:

SRF recipient may elect to claim MBE/WBE participation generated above and beyond the EPA Cap Grants. "Above and beyond the EPA Cap Grants" means all procurement monies expended for construction, equipment, supplies, and services for EPA SRF projects which EPA funds capitalizes DIRECTLY. It does NOT include expenditures for SRF projects funded by reimbursement funds (i.e., MBE/WBE expenditures paid for by principal plus interest paid back by SRF loan recipients to ALL SRF projects in a particular state for a given SRF reporting period, including but not limited to EPA loan projects). When a EPA SRF grant recipient elects to claim MBE/WBE participation "above and beyond the EPA CAP Grant", it must also submit a "Total Procurement Amount" that includes not only the "MBE/WBE participation above and beyond the EPA CAP grants" but also a corresponding NON-MBE/WBE participation amount.


Question:

Who is responsible for assuring that the DBEs contacted for outreach purposes and being reported on EPA Form 5700-52A (MBE/WBE report) satisfies EPA's DBE certification criteria?

Answer:

For purposes of accurate DBE outreach and MBE/WBE reporting, the EPA grant recipient is ultimately responsible for assuring the DBEs are certified in accord with EPA's DBE certification requirements. Although sub-recipients, loan recipients, and Prime Contractors may "certify" that the firms they are reaching out to and utilizing are certified DBEs, the EPA grant recipient should be monitoring these entities to ensure that they are in compliance with the DBE requirements.


Question:

Where can one find DBE prime and subcontractors to satisfy the DBE outreach requirement?

Answer:

In addition to conducting business searches using the Central Contractor Registration system, one can find certified DBEs using numerous state, Tribal, private, and other federal sources. For more guidance, please visit http://epa.gov/osbp/pdfs/dbe/dbe_cert_process.pdf.


Question:

How do I contact my EPA Regional Small Business Coordinator?

Answer:

Each EPA Region has a Small Business Coordinator well versed in the EPA DBE program. For questions specific to your state, please visit http://epa.gov/osbp/dbe_cord.htm to locate your coordinator.


Question:

Does a DBE have to be on the bidders list to receive a contract?

Answer:

No. The bidders list is a list of companies that actually bid on a project, not a pre-formed list used to solicit bids.


Question:

Is a prime contractor who does not make any equipment, supply, construction or service procurements required to conduct the Good Faith Efforts?

Answer:

EPA does not require that the Prime Contractor conduct the Good Faith Efforts if they do not make procurements in the areas of equipment, supply, construction or service.


Question:

If a recipient wants to have the Fair Share Objectives waived, what must they do?

Answer:

Pursuant to 40 CFR 33.104:
  1. A recipient may apply for a waiver from any of the requirements of this part that are not specifically based on a statute or Executive Order, by submitting a written request to the Director of the Office of Small and Disadvantaged Business Utilization.
  2. The request must document special or exceptional circumstances that make compliance with the requirement impractical, including a specific proposal addressing how the recipient intends to achieve the objectives of this part as described in 33.101. The request must show that:
    1. There is a reasonable basis to conclude that the recipient could achieve a level of MBE and WBE participation consistent with the objectives of this part using different or innovative means other than those that are provided in subparts C or D of this part;
    2. Conditions in the recipient's jurisdiction are appropriate for implementing the request; and
    3. The request is consistent with applicable law.


Question:

What DBE program requirements should be included in the solicitations and contracts issued by EPA grant recipient and loan recipients? Is sample language available?

Answer:

EPA does not provide sample solicitation or contract language. (No one set of sample language could accurately and appropriately apply to the varied procurement environments of EPA's numerous and geographically diverse grant recipients). That said, EPA solicitations and contracts should, at a minimum, address the following DBE rule program requirements: 1) Fair Share Objectives (MBE/WBE goals); 2) Good Faith Efforts; 3) Recordkeeping and Reporting (including MBE/WBE utilization reporting); 4) New Contract Administration Requirements and Forms; and 5) New Bidders List Requirements. All contracts should include Appendix A and the Fair Share goals. Solicitations, including media announcements, should note that federal EPA funding is involved and encourage MBEs, WBEs, and other DBEs to bid as prime and subcontractors.

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