In December 2020, the United States Department of Transportation (DOT) amended the small business size limit under the Disadvantaged Business Enterprise (DBE) program (section 1101(b) of the Fixing America’s Surface Transportation (FAST) Act (Pub. L. 114-94, Dec. 4, 2015). The rule, which went into effect on January 13, 2021, increased the DBE gross receipts cap (averaged over the firm’s previous three fiscal years) to $26,290,000 for Federal Highway Administration (FHWA) and Federal Transit Administration (FTA) related work. This inflationary-based adjustment is an increase over the prior gross receipts cap of $23,980,000 enacted in 2015. The effect of this rule, which is “not considered a significant economic impact on a substantial number of size entities,” is to allow “some small businesses to continue to participate in the DBE programs by adjusting for inflation.” This adjustment should provide relief for some DBEs that were close to exceeding the limits from 2018-2020.
Continue reading at: Construction Law Zone
Every year on the anniversary date of your Disadvantaged Business Enterprise (DBE) certification, the regulations require that your company file an “affidavit of no change.” 49 C.F.R. § 26.83(j). This affidavit must be completed by the firm’s owner(s) and requires that you provide a copy of your firm’s most recent federal business tax return. A copy of Georgia’s “no change” affidavit is available here: http://www.dot.ga.gov/PartnerSmart/Business/Documents/GUCP%20Annual%20-%20No%20Change%20Affidavit%20-%20UPDATED%201-15-2016.pdf (note: The original linked article provides a link to the Penn. DOT affidavit. I have provided a link to the Georgia DOT (GDOT) “No Change” Affidavit because most of our readers are Georgia based companies. – Andrew Smith, GTPAC Program Manager)
The requirement of the filing of the “affidavit of no change” is very strict, and the United States Department of Transportation (USDOT) will not accept any excuses. You should calendar the due date in multiple places, along with calendaring reminders to provide sufficient notice to complete the affidavit.
Continue reading at: JD Supra
To spread the economic benefits that construction projects generate more fairly across communities, government agencies reserve some public work for contractors owned or operated by traditionally disadvantaged groups.
Federal, state and even city and county agencies have special programs that give qualified minority and woman-owned business enterprises (MWBEs) and other disadvantaged business enterprises (DBEs), such as service-disabled veterans, a chance to bid on and win certain construction projects ranging from small to mega. That is, if they are certified.
The Small Business Administration, for example, runs the 8(a) certification program, which is probably the most well-known among government contractors, but other agencies have renditions as well. Most certifying agencies require that a qualified business be owned by at least 51% minority or disadvantaged owners.
African Americans, Hispanics, Native Americans, Asian-Pacific and Subcontinent Asian Americans and women are presumed to be socially and economically disadvantaged, according to the federal government. Other individuals can also qualify as socially and economically disadvantaged on a case-by-case basis.
But while certification provides some opportunities, it doesn’t mean that MWBEs and DBEs get to skip over all the hard work that goes into building a business. “That’s not the way it works,” said Dan Moncrief III, CEO and chairman of certified minority commercial contractor McDaniel’s Construction Corp. in Columbus, Ohio, and president of the National Association of Minority Contractors.
“You have to work harder than you’ve ever worked and stay up later than you’ve ever stayed up to get your first job,” he said. “And once you get a first job, it may be a long time before you get the second one. So, it’s a constant grind. If you don’t have the fortitude for it, you might want to do something else.”
Continue reading at: Construction Dive
An effective supplier diversity program can provide multiple benefits for construction companies, including enhanced innovation, profitability, and the ability to attract and retain qualified minority and female employees.
The federal government, state government agencies, and even local governments require companies that do business with them to adopt and implement supplier diversity programs. Many government contracts impose specific levels of contracting with diverse businesses as a contract requirement.
The definitions of “diverse business” vary from jurisdiction to jurisdiction, and many of the acronyms and names commonly used (e.g., Disadvantaged Business Enterprise or DBE) can have different meanings, depending on the laws and regulations applicable to the specific contracts. Therefore, contractors must perform due diligence on the supplier diversity requirements whenever they submit a bid or proposal for a government contract.
A growing number of non-governmental owners mandate diverse supplier participation in their projects. The “Billion Dollar Roundtable” is a group of major U.S. companies that have pledged to spend a minimum of $1 billion a year with diverse suppliers. Due to their large dollar value, construction projects are a key component of these efforts. As of May 31, 2019, the Roundtable has 27 members, including some of the biggest companies: Apple, Boeing, Exelon, and Walmart. Other companies are following this example.
Continue reading at: National Law Review
The need to rebuild, repair, operate and maintain our country’s infrastructure is, and always will be, an ongoing endeavor. The problem is that minorities, women, veterans and other groups are seldom the contractors or high-wage earners on infrastructure projects.
Historically, the primary funding source for the U.S. Dept. of Transportation and its infrastructure projects is an 18.4¢-per-gallon gasoline tax and a 24.4¢-per-gallon tax on diesel fuel that millions of consumers pay at the pump. These taxes account for nearly $200 billion annually. In addition to the federal tax, states collect gasoline taxes that often are much higher, with some state rates adding as much as 57¢ per gallon to a fuel purchase. Couple these taxes with airport fees, tolls and so on, and we see that much of America’s infrastructure is supported by consumers—people who should have the right to participate in rebuilding it. The inclusion of all Americans must be a top priority for local, state and federal representatives and the companies awarded these contracts.
As financial models for these projects become more creative, including the wider use of public-private partnerships (P3s), we need to ensure that funds are being used for their intended purpose—to rebuild infrastructure—and that all Americans benefit from this funding.
Keep reading this article at: https://www.enr.com/articles/44181-infrastructure-projects-should-include-more-minority–and-women-owned-contractors
Stamatios “Tom” Kousisis of Pennsylvania and Emanouel “Manny” Frangos of Ohio, along with Alpha Painting & Construction Co., Inc. of Baltimore, Maryland, and Liberty Maintenance, Inc. of Youngstown, Ohio were charged last week with conspiracy to commit wire fraud, wire fraud, and making false statements in a scheme involving the U.S. Dept. of Transportation’s Disadvantaged Business Program (DBE) in connection with Pennsylvania’s federally-funded Girard Point Bridge project and the federally-funded 30th Street Station.
Kousisis is the Project Manager of Alpha and Frangos is an owner of Liberty Maintenance, which are both bridge painting contractors, although neither is a certified DBE in Pennsylvania. The alleged scheme involved Alpha-Liberty JV, a joint venture between defendants Liberty Maintenance and Alpha Painting, and Markias, Inc., a now-defunct certified DBE.
In September 2009, PENNDOT awarded a contract for approximately $70.3M to a triventure that included the Alpha-Liberty JV to perform structural steel painting and repairs, and concrete repairs, on the Girard Point Bridge in Philadelphia. As part of that award, the triventure made a commitment to PENNDOT to subcontract approximately $4.7M in DBE work to Markias to supply materials to be used in performing the contract. Under governing law, the Alpha-Liberty joint venture was only entitled to credit for work performed by a DBE that was performing a commercially useful function. Instead, according to the indictment, the Alpha-Liberty JV and Kousisis ordered materials needed for their work on the Girard Point Project directly from suppliers that were not DBEs, and used Markias as a mere pass-through or front, to make it falsely appear that disadvantaged business enterprise requirements had been met on the Girard Point Project when those requirements had in fact not been met. Markias did not perform a commercially useful function.
In December 2010, PENNDOT awarded a contract for approximately $50.8 million to a joint venture of two companies referred to in the indictment as Company C and Company F, to perform structural steel painting and repairs and roadway reconstruction beneath and around AMTRAK’s 30th Street Train Station in Philadelphia. Company C and Company F entered into a subcontract, for approximately $15 million, for the Alpha-Liberty JV to perform the structural steel painting beneath 30th Street Station. As part of the bid process, Company C and Company F committed to subcontract approximately $1.7M in Disadvantaged Business work to Markias to supply paint materials for the 30th Street Project. Instead, according to the indictment, the Alpha-Liberty JV and Kousisis ordered materials needed for their work on the 30th Station Project directly from suppliers that were not DBEs, and used Markias as a mere pass-through or front, to make it falsely appear that the DBE requirements had been met on the 30th Station Project when those requirements had in fact not been met. Markias did not perform a commercially useful function.
In addition, the indictment alleges that the Alpha-Liberty JV and Kousisis, and Frangos ordered materials to be delivered to and used on out-of-state projects while directing that the purchase invoices be sent to Markias in New Jersey. Then, allegedly at the direction of Alpha-Liberty JV and Kousisis, and Frangos, Markias issued invoices that made it falsely appear that those supplies had been used on the Girard Point and 30th Street Projects in Pennsylvania. Alpha-Liberty JV and Kousisis, and Frangos allegedly caused Company C to falsely report to PENNDOT that the supplies delivered to and used on the out-of-state projects qualified for DBE credit in Pennsylvania when those purchases did not so qualify. PENNDOT awarded approximately $3.26 million in DBE credit to for the Girard Point Project and approximately $1.275 million in DBE credit for the 30th Street Station Project based on DBE work supposedly performed by a disadvantaged business (Markias). Alpha-Liberty JV paid Markias 2.25% of the face value of the invoices processed by Markias allegedly to act as a pass-through.
If convicted the defendants face a statutory maximum sentence of 170 years in prison, a possible fine, supervised release, and a $1,600 special assessment.
The case was investigated by the U.S. Department of Transportation Office of Inspector General, the FBI, the Department of Labor Office of Inspector General, and Amtrak Office of Inspector General.
An indictment is an accusation. A defendant is presumed innocent unless and until proven guilty.
A federal grand jury returned a twenty-two count indictment on April 3rd, charging three defendants with a 12-year fraud and money laundering scheme involving over $200 million in government-funded contracts intended to benefit small businesses.
The indictment names two individuals, Brian L. Ganos and Mark F. Spindler, both of Wisconsin, and the business Sonag Company, Inc. as defendants. In a related case, Nicholas Rivecca, Sr., also of Wisconsin, agreed to plead guilty to conspiring to defraud the United States.
The indicted defendants are charged with a conspiracy to commit mail fraud and wire fraud. The alleged conspiracy involves operating construction companies with straw owners who qualified as a disadvantaged individual or as a service-disabled veteran, but who did not actually control the companies. The conspirators then fraudulently obtained small business program certifications to win government-funded contracts to which they were not entitled.
Specifically, court documents allege the following:
The federal indictment alleges that the defendants used their certifications to obtain over $200 million in federal, state, and local contract payments. These included federal construction contracts that were set aside for Small Disadvantaged Businesses or Service-Disabled Veteran-Owned Small Businesses. The indictment also alleges that the scheme included using Nuvo’s DBE certification to win ready-mix concrete contracts based on the false representation that Nuvo provided ready-mix concrete independently when, in truth, Nuvo’s concrete operations depended heavily on Sonag Ready Mix. As a part owner of Sonag Ready Mix, Nicholas Rivecca, Sr. agreed to plead guilty to that portion of the scheme.
The government alleges that the conspirators engaged in efforts to conceal the scheme and obstruct investigations into the matter; when interviewed, Ganos and Spindler each gave materially false statements to federal agents.
The indictment also alleges that Ganos conspired with Sonag Company, Inc. and others to launder proceeds of the fraud scheme in order to disguise and conceal the nature, source, and location of those fraud proceeds. As a part of that conspiracy, Ganos is alleged to have transferred fraud proceeds from accounts of Nuvo and C3T to accounts that Ganos controlled. The indictment further charged Ganos with three counts of concealment money laundering transactions, one of which involved the purchase of a Corvette with proceeds of the fraud scheme, and seven counts of spending money laundering transactions.
The maximum penalties for each of the wire and mail fraud-related charges are 20 years in prison, a $250,000 fine, and forfeiture of criminal proceeds. The maximum term of imprisonment for conspiring to defraud the United States is five years. The maximum term of imprisonment for the money laundering conspiracy and for each of the three concealment money laundering charges is 20 years in prison. The maximum term of imprisonment for each of the seven spending laundering charges is 10 years in prison. Each of the 11 money laundering charge also carries a fine of up to $250,000 or twice the amount laundered and subjects the defendant to forfeiture of all money and property involved in the laundering transaction.
Assets of the defendants — including real property, a 2014 Chevrolet Corvette Stingray Convertible, and more than $2.2 million seized from two bank accounts — are subject to civil forfeiture actions filed by the federal government.
The following agencies are participating in this investigation: the Federal Bureau of Investigation; U.S. General Services Administration, Office of Inspector General; Department of Veterans Affairs, Office of Inspector General; Department of Defense, Office of the Inspector General, Defense Criminal Investigative Service; U.S. Department of Transportation, Office of Inspector General; U.S. Small Business Administration, Office of Inspector General, Investigations Division; Defense Contract Audit Agency; and the U.S. Army Criminal Investigations Command Major Procurement Fraud Unit.
An indictment is only a charge and not evidence of guilt. The defendants are presumed innocent and are entitled to a fair trial at which the government must prove guilt beyond a reasonable doubt.
A federal indictment has been unsealed in Philadelphia, charging Nazik Modawi and her husband Abboud Wali with conspiracy and bribery.
According to allegations contained in the indictment, the defendants made two bribe payments in November through December 2016 to Southeastern Pennsylvania Transportation Authority (SEPTA) employees for the purpose of expediting their application for a certification from SEPTA’s disadvantaged business enterprise (DBE) program. SEPTA employees immediately reported the cash payments to authorities.
The charge of conspiracy carry a maximum sentence of 5 years in prison and a $250,000 fine; charges of bribery concerning agencies receiving federal funds carry a maximum sentence of 10 years in prison and a $250,000 fine.
An Indictment, Information or Criminal Complaint is an accusation. A defendant is presumed innocent unless and until proven guilty.
The case was investigated by the Federal Bureau of Investigation and the United States Department of Transportation, Office of Inspector General, with assistance from the SEPTA Inspector General. It is being prosecuted by Assistant United States Attorney Denise S. Wolf of the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Eastern District of Pennsylvania.
A pre-bid conference is being hosted by the City of Augusta’s regional airport on June 20, 2017 for those interested in pursuing subcontracting opportunities.
“This is a perfect time to meet the Procurement staff, the Airport staff, contractors, and sub-contractors,” says Risa A. Bingham, the airport’s Disadvantaged Business Enterprise Liaison Officer.
To find details on this contracting opportunity, and all upcoming City of Augusta contracts, visit http://www.augustaga.gov/686/Demand-Star-Online-Bids and click on the link marked “View Augusta’s Online Bids.”
The pre-bid conference will be held at the Augusta Procurement Dept., 535 Telfair St., Suite 605, Augusta, GA 30901.
The commodity codes associated with the upcoming airport work are:
016-929-75 – Taxiway and Runway Maintenance and Testing Equipment Maintenance and Repair
022-913-10 – Construction: Airport Roadway, Runway and Taxiway
022-913-64 – Maintenance and Repair: Airport Roadway, Runway and Taxiway
029-905-60 – Removal of Rubber Deposits from Runways
029-905-66 – Runway Grooving Services, Airport
029-905-67 – Runway Services (Not Otherwise Classified)