Mayor Gray Announces New Proposal to Reform District’s CBE Program

Mayor Vincent C. Gray last month announced that he was forwarding legislation to the D.C. Council that would reform the District’s Certified Business Enterprise (CBE) program. The legislation was recommended unanimously by a panel of 17 prominent business leaders from the development, construction, finance and other industries that the Mayor appointed earlier this year to study the program’s weaknesses and propose reforms.

“I asked this group of distinguished businesspeople to examine the District’s CBE program and come up with reform legislation that is workable, effective, and broadly accepted,” said Mayor Gray. “They really got into the weeds of theCBE program, how it works, how it should work, and what legislative changes are needed to make it effective. I look forward to introducing legislation that reflects their work in the next several days.”

The legislation the panel recommended would amend several aspects of the Small, Local and Disadvantaged Business Enterprise Development and Assistance Act of 2005, including:

  • Joint Ventures (§2-218.39A): The legislation would provide clear and direct authority for the District’s Department of Small and Local Business Development (DSLBD) to evaluate and certify joint ventures with CBE businesses.
  • Penalty Provisions (§2-218.63): The legislation would provide clear and direct authority for DSLBD to enforce the requirements of the statute and provides for DSLBD and the District’s Office of the Attorney General (OAG) to seek fines and penalties for non-compliance.
  • Subcontracting (§2-218.46): The legislation would provide clear and direct authority for DSLBD to develop and implement a subcontracting program to monitor subcontracting on government-assisted projects.
  • Equity Provisions (§2-218.49a): The legislation would revise a section of the statute dealing with investment and participation in development projects to better reflect the District’s current development market.
  • Local Business Enterprises (§2-218.31): The legislation would refine the definition of local business enterprises to ensure that only businesses based in, and sufficiently connected to, the District are able to participate in the CBEprogram.

The advisory group was led by D.C. Chamber of Commerce Vice President and Executive Director Margaret Singleton. Other members are: Deryl McKissack of McKissack & McKissack; Donna Shuler of Answer Title; Natalie Ludaway of Leftwich & Ludaway; Pam Bundy Foster of Bundy Development Corporation; Loretta Caldwell of L.S. Caldwell & Associates, Inc.; Rod Woodson of Holland & Knight; Bill Alsup of Hines; Merrick Malone of The Robert Bobb Group; Ernie Jarvis of First Potomac Realty Trust; Alberto Gomez of Prince Construction; Luc Brami of Gelberg Signs; Steven Anglemyer of WSC Construction; Pedro Alphonso of Dynamic Concepts, Inc.; Adrian Washington of Neighborhood Development Corporation; Brad Fennell of the William C. Smith Companies; and Jair Lynch of Jair Lynch Development Partners.

Although the group was informal, their meetings were open to the public and public notice was provided in the D.C. Register on March 29th prior to their first meeting. They reviewed proposals by the Mayor’s staff and offered feedback and advice, and representatives of the CBE community attended each of their meetings.

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