Disadvantaged Business Enterprise (DBE) Program
Disadvantaged Business Enterprise (DBE) Program Background
The Texas Water Development Board's (TWDB) Clean Water and Drinking Water State Revolving Fund programs receive federal funding from the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA). These funds are used to provide financial assistance for wastewater and drinking water projects. As a condition of federal grant awards, EPA regulations require that funding recipients (municipalities, towns, public water authorities, nonprofit water supply corporations, etc.) and sub-recipients (prime consultants, prime contractors, and subcontractors) make a good faith effort to award a fair share of work to DBE's who are Minority Business Enterprises (MBEs) or Women-owned Business Enterprises (WBEs) whenever procuring Construction and Non-Construction (supplies, equipment, services).
The DBE Program is an outreach, education, and goal oriented program designed to increase the participation of DBEs in procurements funded by EPA assistance agreements. In addition, EPA regulations require evidence of the demonstration of the six affirmative steps showing a good faith effort to achieve the DBE participation goals.
Recipients of financial assistance (Clean Water State Revolving Fund Equivalency projects and all Drinking Water State Revolving Fund Equivalency projects) are required to be in compliance with the EPA's DBE Program through all phases of the project funded utilizing the Clean Water State Revolving Fund or Drinking Water State Revolving Fund dollars. For more detailed instructions, please review the TWDB's Disadvantaged Business Enterprise Program Guidance (TWDB-0210).
For detailed instructions on the Texas Water Development Board's (TWDB) review for DBE compliance, the DBE Program Guidance (TWDB-0210) document is available for your convenience.
Current TWDB Fair Share Goals/Objectives
The fair share goals are temporarily waived from being negotiated with EPA Region 6. Entities receiving federal financial assistance are still subject to the TWDB's goals and may not substitute them with other agency or program goals.
The Fair Share Goals for categories CONSTRUCTION and NON-CONSTRUCTION are 8%. This is in accordance with the EPA's 8% statute, 42 U.S.C. 4370d, and are effective until superseded.
Six Good Faith Efforts
- Ensure DBEs are made aware of contracting opportunities to the fullest extent practicable through outreach and recruitment activities. For Indian Tribal, state and local government recipients, this will include placing DBEs on solicitation lists and soliciting them whenever they are potential sources.
- Make information on forthcoming opportunities available to DBEs and arrange time frames for contracts and establish delivery schedules, where the requirements permit, in a way that encourages and facilitates participation by DBEs in the competitive process. This includes, whenever possible, posting solicitations for bids or proposals for a minimum of 30 calendar days before the bid or proposal closing date.
- Consider in the contracting process whether firms competing for large contracts could subcontract with DBEs. For Indian Tribal, state and local government recipients, this will include dividing total requirements, when economically feasible, into smaller tasks or quantities to permit maximum participation by DBEs in the competitive process.
- Encourage contracting with a consortium of DBEs when a contract is too large for one of these firms to handle individually.
- Use the services and assistance of the Small Business Administration (SBE) and the Minority Business Development Agency of the Department of Commerce.
- If the prime contractor awards subcontracts, require the prime contractor to take the above steps.
Resources for Identifying DBEs
To assist entities with identifying, including, and utilizing qualified Disadvantaged Business Enterprises (DBEs), recipients of financial assistance and prime contractors are encouraged to refer to the following list of resources made available on local, statewide, and national levels.
- Texas Procurement and Support Services (TPASS) Centralized Master Bidders List (CMBL) - HUB Directory Search: The CMBL - HUB Directory Search is a statewide database managed by the TPASS. This database contains contact information on all vendors registered to do business with the State, including TPASS-certified HUB vendors. The CMBL - HUB Directory Search is an online system available to the public free of charge.
- Small Business Administration
- Texas Department of Transportation
- City of Austin To the right-hand side of the webpage are links to the MBE/WBE/DBE Certified Vendor Search and Small Business Enterprises (SBE) Certified Vendors directories.
- City of Houston
Other Minority & Women Business Organizations that you can contact directly to obtain a list of qualified vendors for your procurement opportunity:
- Southwest Minority Supplier Development Council
- Contact: firstname.lastname@example.org, Phone: 512-386-8766
- Women's Business Council - Southwest
- Contact: Jasmine Price, Phone: 817-299-0566
- Dallas/Fort Worth Minority Business Development Council
- Contact: Andrew Nash, Phone: 214-630-0747
- Women Contractors Association
- Contact: email@example.com, Phone: 713-807-9977
Please note that Minority Business Enterprises (MBE), Women-owned Business Enterprises (WBE), or Historically Underutilized Business (HUB) certifications provided by the Texas Small Businesses Association or Texas Certification Directory will not be accepted by the TWDB or the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA).
How to Become a Certified DBE
Self-Certification of MBEs and WBEs does not meet the EPA's current DBE requirements. Disadvantaged Business Enterprises must be certified by state, local, Tribal, or private entities whose certification criteria meets or exceeds EPA's. To qualify as a MBE or WBE, a business 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. The TWDB will accept certifications from the following governmental entities:
- Texas Department of Transportation
- City of Austin - Small and Minority Business Resources Department
- City of Houston - Office of Affirmative Action and Contract Compliance
- Corpus Christi - Regional Transportation Authority
- North Central Texas Regional Certification Agency
- South Central Texas Regional Certification Agency
Requirements and Recommendations
To be compliant with the DBE Program, all solicitations, both publicly advertised and via direct contact, must address 1) fair share goals; 2) good faith efforts; 3) the involvement of federal EPA funding; and 4) encouragement of MBEs, WBEs, and other DBEs to bid as prime and subcontractors.
To ensure compliance, the TWDB recommends including the following language in all solicitations:
This contract is subject to the Environmental Protection Agency's (EPA) Disadvantaged Business Enterprise (DBE) Program, which includes EPA-approved fair share goals toward procurement of Minority and Women-owned Business Enterprise (M/WBE) businesses. EPA rules require that applicants and prime contractors make a good faith effort to award a fair share of contracts, subcontracts, and procurements to M/WBEs through demonstration of the six affirmative steps. For more details of the DBE Program and the current, applicable fair share goals, please visit www.twdb.texas.gov/DBE.
Project Application Phase
Applicants requesting federal financial assistance through the SRF funds must include a TWDB-0215 form with the financial application.
Commitment and Closing Phase
After receiving a commitment, but prior to closing, applicants must provide forms TWDB-0216 and TWDB-0373 forms. The project's Prime Engineer, Financial Advisor, and Bond Counsel must complete a TWDB-0217 form and indicate if any subcontracting opportunities will be available or if the contractor will be self-performing the contract. Regardless of the procurement's outcome, all entities must submit a TWDB-0373 and list the contractors selected by the applicant for the project. Failure to comply or include a contractor and/or contract will result in denial of payment.
Planning and Designing Phase
Some projects require additional procurement during the planning phase for geotechnical and materials testing, pilot testing, surveying, archeological surveys, etc. Projects requiring additional procurement during the Planning and Design Phase will require submittal of the TWDB-0216 and TWDB-0373 is needed.
Construction Contract Phase
For each Construction Contract, applicants are required to submit the TWDB-0216 and TWDB-0373 forms for the procurement of the Prime Contractor. If the Prime Contractor is utilizing subcontractors for the project, then additional TWDB-0216 and TWDB-0373 is needed.
External DBE Training
Highly recommended for financial recipients and their primes to assist in meeting solicitation/procurement requirements on "equivalency" funded projects.
For assistance related to the TWDB's DBE Program, please email DBE@twdb.texas.gov or call (512) 463-4841.