Disadvantaged Business Enterprise (DBE)

The Disadvantaged Business Enterprise (DBE) Program is a federally-mandated program that provides a vehicle for increasing the participation of minority- and woman-owned businesses in state and local procurement. Each state has it's own DBE Program and Colorado is administered by the Colorado Department of Transportation. DOT DBE regulations require state and local transportation agencies to establish annual DBE goals, and review the scopes of anticipated large prime contracts throughout the year to establish contract-specific DBE subcontracting goals.
The DBE Program was created to provide a level playing field for small minority- and women-owned companies wanting to do business with CDOT and other agencies receiving federal funds from the US DOT. Basic eligibility requirements include:
  • For-profit small business concern as defined by the U.S. Small Business Administration (based upon NAICS)
  • At least 51% owned by one or more individuals who are both socially and economically disadvantaged. Minorities and women are presumed to be socially disadvantaged.
  • Management and daily business operations are controlled by one or more of the socially and economically disadvantaged individuals who own it.
  • The disadvantaged owner(s) must have a personal net-worth of less than $1,320,000. 
  • Depending upon the nature of work performed, a firm (including its affiliates) must not have average annual gross receipts in excess of $22,410,000 ($52,470,000 for airport concessionaires in general with some exceptions). This size standard is for construction related work. Depending on the type of work the business performs, other lower size standards may apply.
  • If state or local law requires the persons to have a particular license or other credential in order to own and/or control the firm, then the socially and economically disadvantaged owner(s) must possess the required license or credential.
Woman- and minority-owned businesses interested in becoming certified as a Colorado DBE can apply through a single agency and the certification is recognized by more than 50 agencies that participate in the Colorado Unified Certification Program (UCP). You must complete and submit an online application to either CDOT or the City and County of Denver. Upon approval, your business can be used to meet the DBE goals established for federally-funded contracts by all CO UCP participants. 

You must first be certified in your "home state" which is the state in which your business is registered or has a principal office. You may then apply for DBE certification in other states. Click here if you are are an out-of-state firm that would like to become DBE certified in Colorado. 

You do not need to be located in Denver to obtain certification through the City and County of Denver. Both agencies use an online application process, however the City and County of Denver will consider you for additional Denver sponsored programs (SBE/MBE/WBE/SBEC/EBE) on the same application. It is free to apply for DBE certification through both agencies. However, if you apply to the City and County of Denver and wish to be considered for additional certifications, a $200 application fee is required.

Annual Renewal
DBE firms are required to renew their certification each year. A renewal application must be completed online through the agency that certified your business using their certification website. You will be notified in advance of certification expiration and you must complete the renewal by the anniversary date of the firm’s certification. Firms that do not complete a renewal application by their anniversary date will have their certification revoked and will be given 15 calendar days to appeal this decision. If no appeal is submitted, the firm will be removed from the Colorado UCP DBE Directory and must wait 12 months before reapplying for certification with CDOT. There is no fee for DBE certification renewal, however, if you also wish to renew other certifications with the City and County of Denver at the same time, there is a $50 renewal fee.

Work Code Change Requests
When you get DBE certified, you are certified to perform work in certain categories. If you do not have a particular work code listed on with your certification, then any work you perform in that category cannot be counted toward DBE goals. It is critical that you review your certification work codes when you are initially certified and keep them up to date by submitting a work code change request as your business grows. This will help maximize your participation in the program. Work code change requests can be submitted online at any time through the agency that certified your business using their certification website. There is no fee to submit a change request and there is no limit to the number of times you can submit.