DBE Program FAQs

Frequently Asked Questions

What is the Disadvantaged Business Enterprise (DBE) Program?

JTA’s Board of Directors issued its Board policy statement in support of equal opportunity for minority and women owned businesses.  Federal regulations were developed to provide additional detail. Businesses must apply for certification and provide evidence of ownership and control by the minority person(s) as part of the DBE certification process.

What is a Disadvantaged Business Enterprise (DBE)?

A DBE is a business that is at least 5l% owned and controlled by one or more minority persons. A minority is generally defined as an individual who is African American, Hispanic American, Asian American, Native American, a Woman or a Disabled person.  The Federal Government DBE Program also includes Alaskan Natives, Pacific Islanders, Aleuts, and persons who are not minorities but who are socially and economically disadvantaged in its definition. The socially and economically disadvantaged owners must demonstrate longstanding, chronic and substantial disadvantage since the business is not owned by persons in the cited minority groups.

How does JTA determine which businesses can participate in the DBE Program?

JTA has a very comprehensive certification process to determine the ownership and control of firms, which apply for DBE certification. There are many specific eligibility criteria for certification.  In assessing ownership, investments by the minority owner are important. Control includes both managerial and operational control with technical knowledge of the firms' major areas of work being an important component for assessing operational control.

Applications are carefully reviewed and personal interviews are conducted by trained DBE staff.  The entire certification process assures that only bona fide DBEs participate in the program.

Why does JTA Require a Personal Net Worth Statement?

Effective fiscal year July 1, 2000 - June 30, 2001, the U. S. Department of Transportation (USDOT) Disadvantaged Business Enterprise (DBE) program has added a new requirement for qualifying as a DBE; the personal net worth (PNW) statement of each minority individual who owns and controls the firm as a part of the 51% minority ownership must be less than $2.047 million.  When an individual's personal net worth exceeds the $2.047 million threshold, the individual is no longer eligible to participate in the Federal DBE Program.  DBE business owners who decide not to provide a PNW statement and will not be considered a DBE for USDOT assisted contracts.  The PNW excludes the ownership interest in business, primary residence, and all retirement assets. 

Do firms graduate from the DBE Program?

Yes.  If a certified DBE firm or a firm seeking DBE certification has a five (5) year annual average of gross receipts that exceeds $30.72 million, the firm would not be eligible to participate in the DBE program.  Once firms graduate from the DBE program, they are encouraged to continue to bid as prime contractors and use DBE firms as subcontractors.

What are the advantages of becoming certified as an DBE?

Certification as a DBE provides greater exposure for work opportunities on JTA projects. The names of all certified DBEs appear in the State of Florida DBE Directory, a reference manual which is widely used by JTA administration, other state departments, local governments, contractors and to the public. Contractors use the DBE Directory as a basic resource for soliciting minority participation on projects. If a firm is not certified, a contractor cannot receive credit toward achievement of the DBE participation goal by using that firm.  In addition, you are eligible to participate in the networking sessions and business development workshop academies that are held periodically.

Will this certification allow me to bid as a DBE on other federally funded contracts?

JTA’s DBE certification program is accepted by other local DOT agencies, such as, Jacksonville Aviation Authority (JAA); Florida Department of Transportation (FDOT); and JAXPORT.

JAXPORT’s use of the DBE Program is dependent on how their project is funded. If the project is funded by the Federal Highway Administration (FHWA), then DBE firms may be utilized. If funded by another source, then firms certified with the Jacksonville Small & Emerging Business Program (JSEB) will be utilized.

DBE certification allows firms to participate in the bid process throughout the entire state of Florida on DOT funded contracts. Typically, this would be at other airports and transit agencies. FDOT contracts are available throughout the entire State of Florida.

Once your firm is certified through JTA, you may participate as a DBE subcontractor on any JTA contract.

Any business may bid directly as a prime on any bid or proposal without regard to certification.

How does JTA establish the goals for disadvantaged business participation?

Every attempt is made by JTA to establish realistic and achievable DBE goals. Individual contract goals are set based upon the dollar value of the project, the availability of DBEs to perform the work which is to be subcontracted, and the availability of certified DBEs in the location where the work is to be done. While the established goals may vary on individual contracts, the total DBE participation in each contract is combined on one report for the JTA DBE participation year. Based upon JTA’s current goal setting methodology, which is reviewed annually by the Federal Transit Administration (FTA), the JTA has currently established a goal to attempt to spend a minimum of 23.44% of its qualifying expenditures with DBE firms. This DBE goal is for Fiscal Year 2023-2025.

How does JTA establish the goals for disadvantaged business participation for contracts with funding from the Federal Highway Administration (FHWA)?

For contracts that involve funding from the Federal Highway Administration, no DBE goals are established as the JTA follows the Race Neutral program of the FDOT which currently has an aspirational goal of 10.65%.

What types of work are available?

Opportunities to participate in construction work, construction-related work and the procurement of goods and services are varied. DBE participation is encouraged on all projects. Although many contracts with DBEs are for sub-contract work in construction related fields, certified DBEs have provided consultant services in technical fields and have been awarded projects as prime contractors.

Once certified, can a firm be assured of getting contracts and subcontracts?

No. Certification does not guarantee work to any DBE firm; however, it does enhance a DBEs exposure to prime contractors and the business community. To be successful, a firm must market itself, its personnel and its services, as any good business should.

What is expected of the DBE once a contract is awarded?

All DBE firms are expected to meet performance standards as established by contract specifications. This relates to the quality of work done, the submission of reports and written information in a timely manner and the firm's compliance with applicable regulations and laws. Once a DBE firm has been awarded a sub-contract, the DBE is responsible for submitting verification of all payments received to the contracting agency.  This includes the amount of payment and date received.

Does the general contractor have any responsibility in the DBE Program?

Yes. The prime contractor must first meet the DBE goals established on the project by seeking out and utilizing certified DBEs.  Once work begins, the prime contractor is responsible for all project activities including those of all subcontractors, to include DBE firms.

Regular monitoring assures that contractual items are performed in accordance with specifications. Monthly reports must be submitted by the prime contractor such as payroll, cost and time estimation and progress reports. When changes are needed, the general contractor must get approval from JTA’s project manager. Any changes in the DBE participation or DBE subcontractors must be approved through JTA’s Office of Small Business & Community Impact, which is responsible for DBE Program oversight.

In April 2015, JTA instituted a mandatory requirement that all prime contractors are required to self-report all payments received from the JTA into the B2GNow (Contract Compliance Tracking System).  This system tracks payments made to the prime contractor and all payments made by the prime to any subcontractors, to include DBEs, and the timeliness of those payments in accordance to JTA’s Prompt Payment Clause.

How can JTA assist DBEs who work on transportation contracts and projects?

DBEs firms can receive technical assistance when experiencing difficulties in business operations. A call to JTA’s Office of Small Business & Community Impact at (904) 632-5298 or email to will guarantee that a DBE staff member will contact the firm to set-up an appointment to provide assistance in business management, construction management and/or financial guidance. The DBE staff member may also assist in resolving problems on the job site such as labor disputes, project scheduling and equipment rental issues.

How does JTA assure that "fronts" or "sham" organizations do not benefit from the DBE Program?

The DBE certification process is used to determine if a firm is minority owned, operated and controlled. To qualify as a DBE, the owner must demonstrate that he or she is a minority person and provide documentation establishing at least 51% ownership of the company.

Once the ownership of a firm is established, the business owner must demonstrate the technical knowledge and experience to make independent business operating and management decisions.

Annual reviews of all certified firms are made to determine if the ownership and control of the DBE has changed. Consideration is given to reports filed by the administrations, which describe how the DBE has managed and performed on projects. Effective contract compliance monitoring procedures also facilitate the identification of "front" or "sham" DBE firms.

How can suspected abuse of the DBE Program be reported?

Suspected abuse should be reported to the Office of Small Business & Community Impact at (904) 632-5298.

What happens to DBEs and general contractors who have abused the DBE Program?

Progressive administrative sanctions can be applied when contractors (DBEs and non-DBEs) have abused the DBE Program. These sanctions include:

  • Suspension of work
  • Withholding a percentage of progress payment
  • Default of the contract
  • Referral to the Office of the Attorney General for criminal investigation
  • Suspension of the right of the contractor to participate in future JTA contracts (debarment), and
  • Other appropriate administrative actions within the discretion of the AVP – Office of Small Business & Community Impact

Where can I find information on upcoming contract opportunities?

You may contact JTA’s Procurement Office at 904-632-5227 to obtain information about upcoming opportunities or review JTA's procurement page more information about the procurement process.

How do I become DBE certified?