My DBE Certification Application has been denied! Now what?

My DBE Certification Application has been denied! Now what?

You’ve spent days, if not weeks and months, putting together your DBE certification application and now you’ve learned that your DBE application has been denied. Now what do you do?

First, read the letter you received from the certifying agency carefully. The reason for the denial will be set forth in the letter you received. There are many reasons why your application could have been denied. Typically, denials fall into the following four categories.

1.         You do not meet the eligibility requirements of the program such as, Business Size, Minority Status or Personal Net Worth.

2.         You failed to show that you control the company.

3.         You fail to show that you independently run the company.

4.         You failed to cooperate by not providing requested documents.

Depending on the reason for your denial you may want to appeal the denial decision.

Filing an Appeal

Your administrative appeal with the Department of Transportation’s Departmental Office of Civil Rights must be filed within 90 days from the date of denial. In some states, you may have the opportunity to appeal your case to a state entity, for  example,  the  Department of Administrative Hearings (DOAH) in Florida.

How to file an appeal after being denied DBE certification by a DOT recipient:

To file a DBE certification appeal, firms should send a letter to the U.S. Department of Transportation. The appeal should at a minimum include information and arguments concerning why the recipient’s decision should be reversed, a copy of the denial letter, and any additional information you believe to be pertinent to the appeal. Firms must provide the name(s) and address(es) of any DOT recipient the firm is currently certified with; or who has rejected its application for certification; or removed the firm’s eligibility within one year prior to the date of the appeal. This includes applications currently pending certification action.

All appeals should be submitted to:

U.S. Department of Transportation
Departmental Office of Civil Rights
External Civil Rights Programs Division (S-33)
1200 New Jersey Ave., S.E.
Washington, DC 20590
Phone: (202) 366-4754     TTY: (202) 366-9696
Fax: (202) 366-5575

Firms can file appeals on their own behalf.  However, we recommend that you retain an attorney who understands the rules and regulations governing the DBE program to represent you.  Hiring an attorney who understands the requirements of the DBE program can be the most cost-effective decision you can make.  At Becker & Poliakoff, we understand the DBE program and its requirements because we regular assist clients in the preparation of their DBE applications. Since we understand the rules we know when an appeal should be taken and when in an appeal should not be taken.

We will review your denial letter and your application and determine whether the denial was justified. If the denial was proper, we will determine whether an opportunity to be certified in the future is possible. If we don’t think your firm meets the requirements of the program we will let you know so you don’t unnecessarily expend time, energy, and financial resources towards obtaining certification. If we think you can be certified in the future, we will recommend ways to adjust your business so you can reapply when the time comes.

If denial was improper, we will review the case law and decisions to draft an appeal brief explaining why denial was improper and why the denial decision should be reversed or remanded.

When all else fails,  it may be necessary to file suit to reverse the denial decision. In that case, our litigation department is well prepared to represent you in court. By hiring an attorney who understands the program we can ensure that a record is created that will help you win your case in court.

At Becker & Poliakoff, we have experience representing clients in both formal and informal DBE certification denial appeals. If your firm has been denied DBE certification and you wish to appeal, please contact us at (305) 260.1039.