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Mayor Gray Announces Reforms to District's Certified Business Enterprise (CBE) Program

Thursday, October 18, 2012
Comprehensive Reforms Align Program Resources and Structure with Ambitious Goals

WASHINGTON, DC—Mayor Vincent C. Gray and Department of Small and Local Business Development (DSLBD) Director Harold B. Pettigrew today announced comprehensive program, regulatory and legislative reforms to strengthen the District's Certified Business Enterprise (CBE) program and support DC's small businesses. The announcement follows Mayor Gray's request for a comprehensive review of the CBE program and recommendations for its reform.

"Building resilient, diversified small and local businesses is a critical part of my strategy for developing a new economy in the District of Columbia," said Mayor Gray. "The CBE program supports the businesses that anchor our communities and create jobs for District residents. By addressing its shortcomings now, this administration is strengthening those businesses and ensuring that they can continue to grow and create jobs for District residents."

On July 3rd, Mayor Gray directed DSLBD to conduct the CBE program review. In early September, DSLBD presented the Mayor with a report and recommendations for programmatic, legislative and regulatory reform.

"The CBE program has long anchored DSLBD's commitment to ensuring that the District's small and local businesses have the tools and resources to compete effectively," said DSLBD Director Harold Pettigrew. "The issues addressed by the CBE program review were a long time in the making, but now is the time to address them directly, align the program's resources with its ambition and signal to our business community that we are committed to its success."

One of the most progressive local-business-inclusion programs in the country, the CBE program provides bona fide District businesses with advantages when competing for District government contracts and development projects. Certified businesses receive point or price preferences depending on the type of procurement. The program evolved from the Sheltered Market Program of the early 1970s and the Local, Small, and Disadvantaged Business Enterprise (LSDBE) program originating in the early 1990s.

The reforms announced today comprehensively improve the program in three thematic areas: business certification, compliance and enforcement, and government-wide initiatives. Signature elements of the reform include decisive improvements to two critical program components. DSLBD's compliance-and-enforcement team, which the DC Council removed from the agency in 2010, will be restored, with 10 full-time employees dedicated to ensuring that government agencies and private development projects comply with the District's CBE laws and regulations. The reforms also restructure the joint-venture application process to eliminate the potential for abuse of joint ventures.

"The Certified Business Enterprise program has been critical to helping my business grow," said Capitol Energy Group CEO Norman Jones. "As a small business owner in the District of Columbia, these reforms are reassuring and position the program for long-term success."

To learn more about Mayor Gray's proposed CBE Program reform and how it will help DC small businesses grow, please visit:

About the District of Columbia Department of Small and Local Business Development

The District of Columbia Department of Small and Local Business Development (DSLBD) fosters the economic growth, development, and retention of District of Columbia based businesses, and promotes economic development throughout the District's commercial corridors. For more information on all of DSLBD's services, go to or contact us at [email protected].