In efforts to increase cooperation between minority-run businesses and the government, the State of Oklahoma has established the Disadvantaged Business Enterprise (DBE) Certification program. This was established when the Oklahoma Department of Transportation entered into a Memorandum of Understanding with partnering DBE certifying agencies across the state.
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.. As a result, this program provides opportunities for ‘disadvantaged’ owners to excel their small businesses with government contracts.
Statewide Certification Programs
Oklahoma 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 Oklahoma, 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 Oklahoma.
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. Here is the link to the UCP application:
To apply for certification, you must complete a Uniform Certification Application (UCA) and submit it along with required supporting documentation, to Civil Rights Division, External Program. Once received and reviewed, a DBE Reviewer will schedule an on-site visit and interview you. Their report of findings will be forwarded to the DBE Certification Committee, which makes the certification decisions. You will then be notified in writing of their decision. If you are certified, your firm’s name and the type of work you can perform will be placed in the DBE Directory of Certified Firms. This directory is available on our website or upon request. In meeting project DBE goals, prime contractors must use certified DBEs from this directory.
There are four steps of the application process:
- Complete the UCP certification application and provide the required documents.
- An audit of the documentation will be conducted to determine preliminary eligibility.
- An on-site visit/review by a UCP Specialist will be performed to determine program compliance and eligibility.
- 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 Oklahoma is the Department of Transportation (OKDOT) 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
Oklahoma Department of Commerce (ODOC)
ODOC provides a Women-Owned Business certification that may be beneficial to minority, female business owners. To qualify, the female owner(s) must: Hold 51% or more of the ownership of the business and have full operating control. More information and the application form can be found at OKcommerce.gov/certifications.
The purpose of Tulsa’s SBE program is to provide small businesses the opportunity to be on a preferred list to provide services and products to departments of the city. Additional benefits include educational, partnering and networking opportunities to develop managerial and communications skills to assist business growth. One key requirement is that participating businesses must be located in the Tulsa Metropolitan Statistical Area (Tulsa, Osage, Rogers, Pawnee, Wagoner, Creek and Okmulgee counties). To apply, request an application packet from the Mayor’s Office for Human Rights, telephone 918-596-7818, or pick up one in person at the City Clerk’s office, City Hall, 175 E. 2nd Street, 2nd Floor, Tulsa 74103.
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:
Businesses in Oklahoma 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 SMSCD offers minority business certifications for companies across the state, through its location in Oklahoma City. Eligibility is established by conducting a series of screenings, interviews and site visits.