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.  

DISCLAIMER: Because of the generality of this update, the information provided herein may not be applicable in all situations and should not be acted upon without specific legal advice based on particular situations.

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