Guide Disadvantaged Business Enterprise Program and Utilization of MBE and WBE Firms

If you are applying for a grant from MassDEP's Division of Municipal Services, take note of the requirements for employing minority- or women-owned businesses.

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Guidance for Grant Applicants

December 2017

This notice was prepared by the Massachusetts Department of Environmental Protection, (MassDEP), to provide important information to municipalities, regional authorities, consultants, contractors and sub-contractors regarding the requirements for the Utilization of Minority-Owned and Women-Owned Business Enterprises on Federally Assisted Projects. MassDEP administers several programs financed by the United States Environmental Protection Agency, (USEPA). These programs include drinking water and wastewater projects funded through the State Revolving Fund, (SRF). Others include, but are not limited to, hazardous waste cleanup, air quality control, recycling, and pollution prevention.

Under the provisions of these programs, USEPA requires compliance with approved goals in order to provide opportunities to Minority-Owned, (MBE) and Women-Owned Businesses, (WBE). In 2008, USEPA promulgated new rules that changed the previous program of MBE/WBE Utilization to a Disadvantaged Business Enterprise, (DBE) Program. MassDEP has incorporated the DBE requirements into these Federally Assisted Projects. The following are key provisions that will affect project bidders:

New Goals:

MassDEP has undertaken an Availability Analysis to develop new DBE goals. As of January 1, 2018, the goals for all categories - Construction, Services, Goods and Equipment - are:

4.2% for D/MBE and 4.5% for D/WBE

Use of Certified DBEs: Firms utilized in Federally Assisted Projects must be certified as either an MBE or WBE and a DBE. The Supplier Diversity Office, SDO, formerly SOMWBA, is the certifying agency for MassDEP and currently has approximately 950 certified DBEs. These can be found in a searchable directory at DBE firms must be under the ownership and control of a socially and economically disadvantaged entity, have a personal net worth of less than $1.32M, and must be US citizens. USEPA also accepts the United States Department of Transportation (USDOT) and US Small Business Administration, SBA (8a) Certification with citizenship.

Waiver Process Changed: If a bidder cannot meet the goals, a Request for Waiver form must be submitted with the bid. When bids are evaluated, the Awarding Authority must decide if it wants to proceed with the request. Awarding Authorities may reject bids that do not meet the goals. If the Authority determines that the waiver request should proceed, the bidder must submit the waiver request with supporting documentation to MassDEP within five days. MassDEP will determine whether the waiver will be granted. If the waiver is denied, the bid must be rejected by the Awarding Authority.

If your company is already certified as a DBE no further action is needed at this time. If your firm has MBE or WBE certification and you want DBE status, contact SDO at 617-502-8831 or for information.

Key Actions for Guidance for Grant Applicants

Additional Resources for Guidance for Grant Applicants