* It is the policy of the Department of Transportation that unified certification programs (UCPs) should, to the maximum extent feasible, reduce burdens on firms which are certified as DBEs in their home state and which seek certification in other states. Unnecessary barriers to certification across the country are contrary to the purpose of a national program like the DBE/ACDBE program.
* In particular, recipients and UCPs should not unnecessarily require the preparation of duplicative certification application packages.
* We remind recipients and UCPs that the Uniform Certification Application Form in Appendix F to part 26 MUST be used for all certifications. The rules do not permit anyone to alter this form or to use a different form for DBE certification purposes.
* The Department strongly encourages the formation of regional certification consortia, in which UCPs in one state provide reciprocal certification to firms certified by other members of the consortium. Consortium members should meet and/or speak with each other frequently to discuss eligibility concerns and approaches to common issues, to conduct training, and for other purposes. Generally, these consortia should be established among states that are located in proximity to one another.
* The Department will closely monitor the efforts of UCPs to reduce burdens on firms applying for certification outside their home states. The Department will determine at a later time whether additional regulatory action is appropriate to prevent unnecessary certification burdens.
Certifications from Other States
* For situations in which a firm certified in State A applies for certification in State B, we suggest the following model. Other approaches are also possible, but the Department believes strongly that all states should put into place procedures to avoid having firms certified in one state start the application process from scratch in another state.
+ Request that the applicant provide a copy of the full and complete application package on the basis of which State A certified the firm. State B should require an affidavit from the firm stating, under penalty of perjury, that the documentation is identical to that provided to State A. It is important that all this material be legible, so that State B can review the package as if it were the original.
+ To ensure that information is reasonably contemporary, State B could have a provision limiting this expedited process to application packages filed with State A within three years of the application to State B.
+ State B should instruct the applicant to provide any updates needed to make the application material current (e.g., changes in personal net worth of the owner, more recent tax returns, changes affecting ownership and control).
+ State B should request State A’s on-site review report and any accompanying memoranda or evaluations. State A should promptly provide this material.
+ State B should certify the firm unless changes in circumstances or facts not available to State A justify a different result, or unless State B can articulate a strong reason for coming to a different result from State A on the same facts.
Certifications of SBA-certified Firms
* When an applicant firm has a current, valid Small Business Administration (SBA) 8(a) or Small Disadvantaged Business (SDB) certification, the UCP must follow the requirements of section 26.84, in place of requiring a new application from the firm.
+ While the memorandum of understanding between DOT and SBA that led to the creation of section 26.84 has expired, the regulatory requirements of this section remain in effect.
+ Note that the process for considering applications from SBA-certified firms required by section 26.84 differs in some respects from the recommended process for considering applications from firms certified in other states.
* This expedited process applies to an SBA-certified firm whose home state is the state in which the UCP operates. For an SBA-certified firm whose home state is another state, the “home state first” provision of sections 26.81(d) and 26.84(e) applies .
* The following are the elements of the process for considering applications from SBA-certified firms:
+ Request that the applicant provide a copy of the full and complete application package on the basis of which SBA certified the firm. The UCP should require an affidavit from the firm stating, under penalty of perjury, that the documentation is identical to that provided SBA.
+ To ensure that information is reasonably contemporary, the UCP may have a provision limiting this expedited process to application packages filed with SBA within three years of the application to the UCP.
+ The UCP should direct the applicant to provide to the UCP any updates needed to make the SBA application material current (e.g., changes in Personal Net worth of the owner, more recent tax returns, changes affecting ownership and control)
+ Conduct an on-site review of the firm.
+ Where there are differences between SBA programs and DOT requirements, ensure that the firm meets DOT requirements. For example, an SBA-certified firm participating in an SBA-approved mentor-protégé or joint venture program may have difficulty in meeting DOT independence and control requirements.
+ The UCP should certify the firm unless changes in circumstances or facts not available to the SBA (e.g., discovered as part of the on-site review) justify a different result. It is not appropriate to refuse to certify an SBA-certified firm solely because of a difference in judgment between SBA and the UCP (e.g., about whether the same facts warrant a finding that the disadvantaged owners control the firm).