49 CFR § 26.81 - What are the requirements for Unified Certification Programs?

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§ 26.81 What are the requirements for Unified Certification Programs?

(a) You and all other DOT recipients in your state must participate in a Unified Certification Program (UCP).

(1) Within three years of March 4, 1999, you and the other recipients in your state must sign an agreement establishing the UCP for that state and submit the agreement to the Secretary for approval. The Secretary may, on the basis of extenuating circumstances shown by the recipients in the state, extend this deadline for no more than one additional year.

(2) The agreement must provide for the establishment of a UCP meeting all the requirements of this section. The agreement must specify that the UCP will follow all certification procedures and standards of this part, on the same basis as recipients; that the UCP shall cooperate fully with oversight, review, and monitoring activities of DOT and its operating administrations; and that the UCP shall implement DOT directives and guidance concerning certification matters. The agreement shall also commit recipients to ensuring that the UCP has sufficient resources and expertise to carry out the requirements of this part. The agreement shall include an implementation schedule ensuring that the UCP is fully operational no later than 18 months following the approval of the agreement by the Secretary.

(3) Subject to approval by the Secretary, the UCP in each state may take any form acceptable to the recipients in that state.

(4) The Secretary shall review the UCP and approve it, disapprove it, or remand it to the recipients in the state for revisions. A complete agreement which is not disapproved or remanded within 180 days of its receipt is deemed to be accepted.

(5) If you and the other recipients in your state fail to meet the deadlines set forth in this paragraph (a), you shall have the opportunity to make an explanation to the Secretary why a deadline could not be met and why meeting the deadline was beyond your control. If you fail to make such an explanation, or the explanation does not justify the failure to meet the deadline, the Secretary shall direct you to complete the required action by a date certain. If you and the other recipients fail to carry out this direction in a timely manner, you are collectively in noncompliance with this part.

(b) The UCP shall make all certification decisions on behalf of all DOT recipients in the state with respect to participation in the DOT DBE Program.

(1) Certification decisions by the UCP shall be binding on all DOT recipients within the state.

(2) The UCP shall provide “one-stop shopping” to applicants for certification, such that an applicant is required to apply only once for a DBE certification that will be honored by all recipients in the state.

(3) All obligations of recipients with respect to certification and nondiscrimination must be carried out by UCPs, and recipients may use only UCPs that comply with the certification and nondiscrimination requirements of this part.

(c) All certifications by UCPs shall be pre-certifications; i.e., certifications that have been made final before the due date for bids or offers on a contract on which a firm seeks to participate as a DBE.

(d) A UCP is not required to process an application for certification from a firm having its principal place of business outside the state if the firm is not certified by the UCP in the state in which it maintains its principal place of business. The “home state” UCP shall share its information and documents concerning the firm with other UCPs that are considering the firm's application.

(e) Subject to DOT approval as provided in this section, the recipients in two or more states may form a regional UCP. UCPs may also enter into written reciprocity agreements with other UCPs. Such an agreement shall outline the specific responsibilities of each participant. A UCP may accept the certification of any other UCP or DOT recipient.

(f) Pending the establishment of UCPs meeting the requirements of this section, you may enter into agreements with other recipients, on a regional or inter-jurisdictional basis, to perform certification functions required by this part. You may also grant reciprocity to other recipient's certification decisions.

(g) Each UCP shall maintain a unified DBE directory containing, for all firms certified by the UCP (including those from other states certified under the provisions of this part), the information required by § 26.31. The UCP shall make the directory available to the public electronically, on the internet, as well as in print. The UCP shall update the electronic version of the directory by including additions, deletions, and other changes as soon as they are made and shall revise the print version of the Directory at least once a year.

(h) Except as otherwise specified in this section, all provisions of this subpart and subpart D of this part pertaining to recipients also apply to UCPs.

[64 FR 5126, Feb. 2, 1999, as amended at 76 FR 5100, Jan. 28, 2011]