State M/WBE Certification Program (MBE, WBE, MWBE)
The purpose of the state program is to increase the opportunities for minority and women-owned small businesses to provide goods and services to state agencies and schools. Since Washington State voters passed Initiative 200, goals set for public contracting with M/WBEs are no longer mandatory. However, the Governor has recognized the importance of continuing to include M/WBE’s in public contracting. Voluntary goals continue to be set and OMWBE continues its work to further the use of M/WBEs in public and private contracting.
To certify firms in the state program, OMWBE follows the rules in Washington Administrative Code (WAC) Chapters 326-02 and 326-20. Here is a summary of the eligibility criteria outlined in these rules:
State Program Eligibility
- To be considered an eligible owner, you must be a U.S. citizen or lawful permanent resident and a member of one of the following groups:
- Black – origins in any of the Black racial groups of Africa
- Hispanic – Mexican, Puerto Rican, Cuban, Central or South American, or other Spanish or Portuguese culture or origin, regardless of race
- American Indian/Alaskan Native – origins in any of the original peoples of North America
- Asian American – origins in any of the original peoples of the Far East, Southeast Asia, the Indian Subcontinent or the Pacific Islands
- Socially and Economically Disadvantaged – determined on a case-by-case basis. To qualify for SEDBE, the owner must complete the Proof of Social and Economic Disadvantage Questionnaire and Personal Financial Statement and provide documented proof
- Ownership percentages are not rounded. 50.99% ownership will not be rounded up to 51% ownership.
- Because Washington is a community property state, a business owned by a husband and wife is automatically deemed to be owned 50% by the husband and 50% by the wife. For more information on the impact of Community Property on Certification, please see the FAQ section on Getting Certified.
- An independent business is not:
- Intertwined with any noncertified businesses. Intertwinement and Joint Venturing with other M/W/DBE certified firms may be allowed.
- Unduly reliant on any other business or person.
- Engaged in sharing resources (people, facilities, equipment, insurance, etc.) with non-certified firms.
- Out of state firms that do not have a location in Washington and do not have a physical presence in Washington in order to conduct business may not be required to have a Washington Business License.
- Any firm incorporated in another state must obtain a Certificate of Foreign Authority from the Washington Secretary of State in order to operate in Washington.
- Firm must be a small business as defined by the U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA) size standards and as applicable to the business’ primary business activities. Primary business activities are defined by the firm’s assigned NAICS codes. (NAICS = North American Industry Classification System)
- Firm must perform a “Commercially Useful Function”. A “commercially useful function” is a real and actual service that is central and necessary to complete the product or service.
Public Records Notice:
Applications and supporting documentation submitted to OMWBE for the state program are considered public records and subject to public disclosure (WAC 326-07). Any exemptions from public disclosure are found in chapter 42.56 RCW, the state’s Public Record Act.
Applications and supporting documentation submitted to OMWBE for the DBE or ACDBE programs are non-disclosable without written consent from the firm (49 CFR Part 26.109(a) of Subpart F).