MWBE & DBE Certification Procedures in NY

MWBE & DBE Certification

Both the Federal government and the State of New York have stressed both the importance of meaningful representation as well as the significant contribution of minority- and women-owned business enterprises (MWBEs) on the state level and disadvantaged business enterprises (DBEs) on the federal level. At both levels of government contracting, the objective is the same: to promote equality of economic opportunities by eliminating barriers to participation in government-funded projects.

Government procurement agencies have devised programs to aid MWBEs and DBEs in obtaining information and resources about certification as well as setting meaningful targets to ensure that MWBEs and DBEs receive increased access to government-funded contracting opportunities. Certifying agencies are diligent in both the initial certification process as well as monitoring participation by MWBEs and DBEs to ensure that they are performing commercially
useful functions (CUFs) on government contracts.

Benefits of MWBE Certification:

For many smaller contractors who meet the criteria, the MWBE/DBE certification process can offer numerous advantages:

● Access to contracts with the government:  Federal, New York City, and New York State agencies must reserve a specific proportion of their contracts for MWBEs and DBEs;

● Increased exposure:  Certified companies are listed in a directory that government organizations and prime contractors utilize to staff multi-million dollars government contracts;

● Financial support:  Businesses with MWBE and DBE certification can apply for various subsidies and loans from governmental agencies;

● Network opportunities:  MWBE and DBE companies get access to a range of networking and other resources designed to leverage certification and increase access to contract opportunities.

While MWBE and DBE certification programs are powerful tools to allow historically disadvantaged companies to benefit from access to government-funded contracts, there are requirements and processes that need to be navigated in order for MWBEs and DBEs to both secure certification but, more importantly, to meaningfully participate in valuable contracting opportunities.

If your company is considering MWBE or DBE certification, it is vital that you understand both the playing field and the rules of the game. Our attorneys have nearly 40 years combined experience in assisting MWBE and DBE companies in not only getting on the field, but in helping them excel once they are there. Wilson & Chan LLP are experts in helping our clients navigate the process, from beginning to end.

MWBE Certification Methodology

The certification process, itself, can seem daunting. Government entities have exhaustive requirements to ensure the credibility and sustainability of the MWBE and DBE process, particularly around certification and, at the appropriate time, re-certification. The process can be significantly time- and resource-intensive in terms of required filings and supporting documentation. Our attorneys are here to guide you through the process and can make the difference between success and failure. Most importantly, they will help focus your efforts in ways to minimize cost and maximize results. For any entity looking to secure MWBE or DBE certification, it should be prepared to pull together numerous supporting papers, including tax records, financial statements, and proof of business ownership.

Like anything else related to your business, paying close attention to detail and putting in the time will make MWBE and DBE certification both less chaotic and more worthwhile. Surrounding yourself with experts in the process will only increase your chances of success – you have one shot at this! If denied certification, you will have to wait at least three years to
reapply.

Requirements for MWBE Certification

Generally speaking, to be certified as a MWBE or DBE entity, a company must fulfill the following criteria:

  • At least 51% of the company must be independently owned, run, and managed by people from underrepresented groups or women (in the DBE context, members of “disadvantaged” groups, as defined in Federal law).
  • The ownership must be real, substantial, and continuing, and the minority and/or women members must exercise the authority to independently control the day-to-day business decisions.
  • The minority or woman owner(s) are subject to certain personal net worth restrictions.
  • These restrictions are more strict for DBE certification (Federal contracts) than MWBE certification (State contracts).
  • It must be a for-profit corporation with its main office in the State of New York (for MWBE candidates).
  • It needs to be a small business in good standing with the N.Y. Department of State (for MWBE candidates).
  • It must be in business for at least 1 year.
  • It must generate at least $1 million in gross annual revenue (for MWBE candidates).

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