Disadvantaged Business Enterprise and the Maryland Department of Transportation

As part of determining whether a company is eligible for certification as a disadvantaged business enterprise (DBE) with the Maryland Department of Transportation (MDOT), must the company be considered an independent business?  

Yes.  Only an independent business may be certified as a DBE.  To be an independent business, the viability of the business must not be dependent on a relationship with another company or companies. 

As part of the certification application process, in determining whether a potential DBE is independent MDOT will scrutinize its relationships with non-DBE firms in areas such as personnel, facilities, equipment, financial and bonding support.  Also, the potential DBE’s relationships with prime contractors are examined in order to determine whether there is a pattern of exclusive or primary dealings with the primes that would compromise its independence.  However, it should be noted that MDOT, in assessing relationships between the potential DBE and non-DBE firms, does factor in and consider normal industry practices. 

Certification of a business can be a viable tool for developing and maintaining business relationships. Businesses seeking certification as a DBE in Maryland may want to consider obtaining legal advice concerning eligibility requirements for certification prior to applying for certification.    


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