Disadvantaged Business Enterprise Program and Utilization of MBE and WBE Firms

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

Table of Contents

Guidance for State Revolving Fund Borrowers

Updated August 2020

The Massachusetts Department of Environmental Protection (MassDEP) wishes to provide important information to municipalities, regional authorities, consultants, contractors, and sub-contractors, regarding the requirements of the Disadvantaged Business Enterprise (DBE) Program and the utilization of Minority-Owned Business Enterprises (MBE) and Women-Owned Business Enterprises (WBE) on Federally Assisted Projects. MassDEP administers several programs financed by the United States Environmental Protection Agency, (USEPA). These programs include drinking water and wastewater infrastructure projects that are financed through the State Revolving Fund (SRF) loan programs. These requirements may also apply to other projects that include, but are not limited to, waste site cleanup, air quality control, recycling, and pollution prevention.

USEPA required compliance with approved goals in order to provide opportunities to Minority-Owned and Women-Owned Businesses. In 2008, USEPA promulgated new rules that changed the previous program of MBE/WBE Utilization to a Disadvantaged Business Enterprise, Program.  MassDEP has incorporated the DBE requirements into the Federally Assisted Projects. However, on October 1, 2019, USEPA issued an exception to its M/WBE program that "...temporarily waived the requirements of Subpart D of 40 CFR Part 33 (fair share objectives). In addition, it permanently suspends the EPA certification program which served as a DBE certifying program..."

Please be advised that the enactment of the USEPA exception in no way alters or affects how MassDEP implements and manages the existing M/WBE program or its established goals.  For the foreseeable future, MassDEP will maintain the M/WBE Utilization programs and goals.

The following are key provisions that will affect project bidders:

D/MBE and D/WBE Goals:

MassDEP has undertaken an Availability Analysis to develop D/MBE & D/WBE 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

Firms utilized in SRF Projects must be certified as either an MBE or WBE and a DBE.

The Supplier Diversity Office (SDO) is the M/WBE certifying agency for MassDEP.

DBE certification is a federal designation used in conjunction with the United States Department of Transportation (USDOT) funded projects and contracts. Firms seeking to participate as DBEs in USDOT assisted contracts must be certified as a DBE. The Massachusetts Department of Transportation (MassDOT) has established a Unified Certification Program (UCP) for all recipients and individuals seeking to do business with transportation agencies as Disadvantaged Business Enterprises. 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.

Certified M/WBEs and DBEs can be found in a searchable directory at: https://www.diversitycertification.mass.gov/BusinessDirectory/BusinessDirectorySearch.aspx.

Waiver Process:

When bids are evaluated by the SRF borrower, the borrower must decide to proceed with the request or to reject bids that do not meet the goals.

If a bidder cannot meet the goals, a Request for Waiver Form with supporting documentation must be submitted to MassDEP with the bid. MassDEP will determine whether the waiver will be granted. If MassDEP denies the waiver, the SRF Borrower must reject the bid.

For MBE or WBE certification  contact SDO at 617-502-8849 orhttps://www.mass.gov/supplier-diversity-office

For DBE certification contact MassUCP/DBE at (857) 368-8656 or https://www.mass.gov/how-to/apply-for-disadvantaged-business-enterprise-dbe-certification

Key Actions for Guidance for State Revolving Fund Borrowers

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