DBE and SBE Outreach Program - VIA Metropolitan Transit

DBE and SBE Outreach Program

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VIA’s Office of Diversity & Federal Compliance (ODFC) is responsible for developing and implementing policies and procedures necessary to ensure that Disadvantage Business Enterprises (DBEs) and Small Business Enterprises (SBEs) have the maximum opportunity to bid on all contracts.

A Message from VIA President/CEO Jeff Arndt

Department Objectives

1. Meet VIA’s Federal Transportation Administration (FTA) FY2020-FY2022 Triennial DBE goal of 18.73% on an annual basis.

2. Increase DBE and SBE participation in VIA’s solicitations.

3. Ensure Prime Contractors are compliant with Prompt Payment, Retainage, Commercial Useful Function, and Prevailing Wages.

 

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Department Staff

Maurice Bridges Director, Business Diversity / DBE Liaison Officer (DBELO)(210) 362-2071maurice.bridges@viainfo.net
Ana Rivas Diversity & Compliance Administrator (210) 612-9422ana.rivas@viainfo.net
Briana SalgadoCompliance & Reporting Analyst (210) 741-2630briana.salgado@viainfo.net
Richard MartinezBusiness Community Outreach Specialist (210) 362-2395 richard.martinez@viainfo.net

Disadvantaged Business Enterprise (DBE) Program

VIA has established a DBE program in accordance with the federal regulations under the United States Department of Transportation (USDOT) 49 CFR Part 26 for recipients of federal funds with $250,000 or more in contracting opportunities (excluding bus vehicle purchases). The DBE Program was established for companies owned and controlled by persons that are considered socially and economically disadvantaged. Under federal regulation 49 CFR Part 26, the following groups are presumed socially and economically disadvantaged.

  • Woman
  • African Americans
  • Hispanic Americans
  • Native Americans
  • Asian-Pacific Americans
  • Subcontinent Asian Americans

A company, that among other things, is 51 percent or more owned (individually or in any combination) by persons from such groups may be eligible for certification as a Disadvantage Business Enterprise (DBE).

Certification

VIA only accepts DBE certifications from the following six (6) Texas Unified Certification Program (TUCP) agencies:

If you are a certified DBE firm in a state other than Texas, you may seek reciprocity in Texas by completing a DBE Interstate Application through SCTRCA’s Online Portal, or with one of the six (6) TUCP agencies listed above.

VIA’s DBE Program is designed to:

  • Ensure nondiscrimination in the award and administration of federally funded contracts.
  • Create a level playing field where DBEs can compete fairly for federally funded contracts.
  • Help remove barriers for DBE participation in the bidding, award, and administration of VIA contracts.
  • Assist in the development of DBEs so they can compete successfully in the market outside of the DBE program.
  • Ensure that only firms that fully meet the eligibility standards of 49 CFR Part 26 are permitted to participate as DBEs.
  • Ensure that the DBE Program is narrowly tailored in accordance with applicable law.

VIA accepts the premise that special efforts must be made to remove barriers to include small businesses in the local economic mainstream, thereby promoting economic competition within the free enterprise system.

VIA’s DBE program does not utilize quotas for contracts or permit the use of set-asides.
To this end, VIA is committed to providing small businesses fair opportunities to participate in VIA’s DBE and SBE programs as well as assisting the development of small businesses that can successfully compete outside of VIA’s programs.

For more information on Small Business Enterprise, see the SBE Program section.

Small Business Enterprise (SBE) Program

The SBE Program is designed to allow the participation of small businesses, regardless of race or gender, to bid as Prime Contractors or be a Subcontractor on locally-funded VIA contracts.

VIA is committed to developing relationships and increasing participation with small business concerns in a fiscally responsible manner. In compliance with 49 CFR Part 26.39, VIA established its SBE Program to facilitate competition by small businesses.

VIA will take all reasonable steps to eliminate obstacles that may preclude small business participation in procurements as Prime Contractors or subcontractors.

For purposes of this Program, a small business concern is as defined in the Small Business Administration regulations implementing it (13 CFR Part 121) that also does not exceed the cap on average annual gross receipts specific in 49 CFR Part 26 – Section 26.65.

Eligibility as SBEs on VIA Contracts

The following requirements must be met to be an SBE on VIA contracts:

1. The company’s annual gross income averaged over the past three (3) years does not exceed the size standards for small businesses as established by the United States Small Business Administration (SBA) for the industry in which they work, generally under the North American Industry Classification System (NAICS).

2. Small businesses can now apply for their SBE certification by submitting an SBE Certification Application online through South Central Texas Regional Certification Agency (SCTRCA). If you are currently certified as a Disadvantaged Business Enterprise (DBE) with any of the six (6) Texas Unified Certification Program (TUCP) agencies (listed under Certification) you are considered an SBE and do not have to complete the SBE certification process.

3. Small businesses whose company headquarters is not located in any of the following counties: Atascosa, Bandera, Bexar, Comal, Frio, Guadalupe, Kendall, Kerr, McMullen, Medina, Uvalde and Wilson or Texas can apply for a SBE certification by submitting an Out of Jurisdiction application application online through SCTRCA. A $250 application fee applies for all Out of Jurisdiction SBE applications (this fee is paid to SCTRCA not VIA).

SBE Priority Requests

If your firm is applying for an SBE certification to meet the SBE requirements on an active solicitation, VIA can submit a Priority Request Form to expedite your application, after it has been submitted to SCTRCA. You must send an email to ODFC@viainfo.net with the following information:

  • Name of Firm
  • Contact Name
  • Contact Phone Number
  • Bid Solicitation Number
  • Bid Solicitation Name
  • Bid Due Date

VIA cannot guarantee that your application will be approved, nor that it will be approved by the bid due date. Please note that a Priority Request can only be made through SCTRCA.

Outreach

The Office of Diversity & Federal Compliance (ODFC) is committed to developing and implementing a comprehensive outreach plan necessary to increase VIA’s annual total spend among ready, willing, and able, Disadvantaged Business Enterprises (DBEs) and Small Business Enterprises (SBEs). ODFC’s outreach initiatives include the following:

  • Conduct targeted outreach within the community
  • Register firms on the Diversity Compliance Reporting System (DCRS)
  • Conduct Business Assessments & Strengths-Weakness-Opportunities-Threats (SWOT) Analysis
  • Provide Technical Assistance for DBE and SBE Certification Application
  • Identify upcoming did opportunities
  • Encourage bid submission

To request an appointment for any of the services listed above, please email ODFC@viainfo.net with your name and contact information.

Events

See upcoming events on the Events module in the Diversity Compliance Reporting System at
https://VIA.diversitycompliance.com

Compliance

The Office of Diversity & Federal Compliance (ODFC) is committed to ensuring Disadvantaged Business Enterprise (DBE) and Small Business Enterprise (SBE) participation on contracts meet the amount contractually agreed. ODFC ensures that DBE and SBE contract requirements are communicated to all necessary parties, and properly included in the contract documents, and that DBE and SBE contract terms and conditions are met.
ODFC compliance and monitoring activities may include, but are not limited to the following:

  • Participate in pre-bid and pre-award meetings to ensure DBE or SBE contract requirements are communicated, and prime contractors have an understanding of their responsibilities and obligations.
  • Approve DBE and SBE utilization plans proposed by prime contractors.
  • Ensure prompt payment is made to DBE and SBE subcontractors.
  • Review and confirm DBE and SBE participation and goal attainment on contracts.
  • Works with prime contractors and subcontractors to promptly resolve concerns where DBE and/or SBE participation and compliance concerns exist.
  • Review certified payroll reports to ensure compliance with applicable regulations and laws.

Diversity Compliance Reporting System (DCRS)

Visit the Diversity Compliance Reporting System at VIA.diversitycompliance.com

What is a Disadvantaged Business Enterprise (DBE)?

A DBE is a for-profit small business that is at least 51% owned by individuals who are socially and economically disadvantaged. For additional criteria based on personal net worth and business size standards, visit the “Do You Qualify as a DBE?” page of the U.S. Department of Transportation’s Office of Civil Rights

How does my business become a DBE?

In the State of Texas, you must be certified through any of the six (6) Texas Unified Certification Program (TUCP) agencies:

Please visit their respective websites for additional information.

What is a Triennial DBE goal?

It is the estimate of an overall opportunity that exists for DBE participation on contracts. The goal is calculated according to a method approved by the Federal Transit Administration (FTA) and submitted every 3 years for review and approval.

Does my firm have to be certified as a DBE to do business with VIA?

No. Any business, no matter who owns it, may compete for any VIA solicitation, either as a prime contractor or as a subcontractor, whether or not they are certified as a DBE. However, if your firm is seeking to perform work on a solicitation as a DBE, you must first obtain DBE certification.

How does DBE certification help my firm get contracts with VIA?

The Office of Diversity & Federal Compliance (ODFC) reviews solicitations to determine whether they present opportunities for DBEs. Based on federal guidelines, ODFC may set goals for the participation of DBEs on a solicitation, help the prime contractor find qualified DBE subcontractors, and monitor the performance of the prime contractor to ensure that it is using good faith efforts to meet participation goals. Prior to issuing an a Request for Proposal (RFP) or Invitation for Bid (IFB), ODFC establishes contract-specific goals based on availability of DBE firms.

In what other ways does DBE certification help my firm?

When ODFC establishes a goal for DBE participation, prime contractors will seek to identify qualified DBE firms to meet solicitation goals. In general, those contractors will look for firms that have already been certified as DBEs. Being a certified DBE may also open the door to opportunities for growing your business, by making it easier for you to market to VIA and other governmental entities. You will also gain the advantage of having your business listed in the Texas Unified Certification Program (TUCP) Directory of Certified DBE Firms. Prime contractors use the directory to identify DBEs for participation in their bids.

Does my DBE certification from a state other than Texas qualify for credit?

Your firm must be reciprocally certified as a DBE in the TUCP Directory of Certified DBE Firms.

What are the first steps for a firm interested in becoming certified as a DBE?

If your firm’s headquarters is in the state of Texas, please refer to the attached TUCP Certifying Agency Region Map for the agency that corresponds to your location. If your firm is from a state other than Texas, please refer to your home state’s Unified Certification Program (UCP) to get certified as a DBE. If you are in the SCTRCA jurisdiction, you’ll need to complete a DBE Certification Application. Then SCTRCA will conduct a certification review pursuant to federal regulations.

How long will it take for my firm to be certified?

The certification process may take up to 90 days.

When is a bidder required to make “good faith efforts?

A bidder is required to make “good faith efforts” when the firm determines that it can’t meet the stated DBE goal. Types of actions considered as part of a bidder’s “good faith efforts” include, but are not limited to, the following:

  • Adequate solicitation of DBE Subcontractors through all reasonable and available means, with sufficient time for Subcontractors to respond.
  • Selecting portions of the work to be performed in order to increase the likelihood that the goals will be achieved.
  • Providing interested potential Subcontractors with adequate information about the plans, specifications and requirements of a solicitation in a timely manner.
  • Not rejecting potential Subcontractors as unqualified without objective criteria based on a thorough investigation of their capabilities.

What is the Unified Certification Program (UCP)?

The UCP provides one-stop shopping for DBE firms. One unified directory, including all certified DBE firms, is available for the entire State. The advantages for the DBE firms are: one certification will enable them to be eligible to fulfill DBE goals set on any project with any governmental agency receiving FTA funding in Texas; and the DBE firms will also have more visibility due to the unified statewide directory.

How do I bid on solicitations less than $50,000?

To be considered for solicitations under $50,000 or “informal bids”, all firms must be a registered vendor in the Diversity Compliance Reporting System (DCRS) because firms are solicited directly. DBE and/or SBE certified firms are especially encouraged to register. Procurement typically gives firms five (5) days to respond to the solicitation. Vendors can also reach out to Procurement staff to find out if there are opportunities in their area of expertise. Please be advised that a vendor registration is not the same as a DBE/ SBE certification. You must complete the certification process from one of the six (6) TUCP agencies in order to get certified as a DBE and/or SBE.

How do I bid on “micro-purchases” (solicitations of $3,500 or less)?

To be considered for micro-purchases, all firms must be a registered vendor in the Diversity Compliance Reporting System (DCRS) because firms are solicited directly. DBE and/or SBE certified firms are especially encouraged to register. Procurement typically gives firms two (2) days or less to respond to the solicitation. Vendors can also reach out to Procurement staff to find out if there are opportunities in their area of expertise. Please be advised that a vendor registration is not the same as a DBE/ SBE certification. You must complete the certification process from one of the six (6) TUCP agencies in order to get certified as a DBE and/or SBE.

How does VIA monitor and enforce Prevailing Wages on construction contracts?

VIA monitors and enforces Prevailing Wages through the submission of certified payrolls by the Prime contractor and all tier subcontractors on federally funded construction contracts over $2,000.

How is DBE and SBE participation monitored?

At the time of bid, bidders are required to submit all DBE and SBE participation forms provided in the solicitation package. After contract award, ODFC conducts desk audits of all contracts and requires all contractors to enter payments into the Diversity Compliance Reporting System to ensure payment is made to all DBEs and SBEs for work completed.

When do Disadvantaged Business Enterprise (DBE) and Small Business Enterprise (SBE) goals apply to a contract?

DBE goals are established on federally-funded contracts, whereas, SBE goals are established on locally-funded contracts.

How do I register as a vendor?

Please refer to the Registration Guide.