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Frequenty Asked Questions - Usage and Definitions

The MBE/DBE directory makes extensive use of the terms and definitions found on this page.

What is the North American Industry Classification System (NAICS)?

The NAICS attempts to group products and/or services into standardized industrial categories. Each category is referenced by a number called a NAICS code. When a firm seeks MBE or DBE certification the products and/or services offered by the firm are evaluated and the appropriate NAICS codes are assigned to that firm. All firms are reviewed anually to ensure the accurate representation of product and/or service offerings.

The MBE/DBE directory can be searched by NAICS code and/or product/service description, which is a useful way of locating firms that perform similar work. Each assigned NAICS code is accompanied by a certification status designation. Firms may be assigned one or more designation per code, depending on the type of certification. Searching for a NAICS code with a specific type of designation will return all firms assigned that combination and may display additional designations if multiple designations are assigned to that code for that firm. Leaving the designation type as * will return all firms assigned that NAICS code, regardless of designation.

NAICS code designations are defined as:
  • "MBE" - the firm is qualified for state of Maryland funded contracts of the MDOT; these include contracts let by the Maryland State Highway Administration, the Maryland Aviation Administration, and the Maryland Transit Administration.

  • "DBE" - the firm is qualified to participate as a Disadvantaged Business Enterprise on USDOT assisted contracts of the MDOT.

  • "SBE" - the firm is qualified to participate as a Small Business Enterprise on USDOT assisted contracts of the MDOT.

  • "ACDBE" - the firm is qualified for airport concession contracts.

  • "GRADUATED" - the firm has exceeded the allowable industry size standard set for MBE/DBE participants and may no longer be claimed as an MBE/DBE on state or federal contracts for work performed in this category.
What is "Graduation?"

Graduation is the recognition that a firm has attained a fiscally significant presence in the marketplace. Firms are reviewed annually and are assigned a graduate status for any NAICS code that relates to an industry in which the firm is proven to have exceeded the allowable MBE/DBE participant revenue threshold. Firms may also graduate as a whole entity if the personal net worth (PNW) of the owner exceeds the allowable maximum for MBE/DBE program participants.

What is the difference between "Fully Graduated" and "Partially Graduated?"

Fully Graduated Firms - are firms that have exceeded the size standard for all of their assigned NAICS code or exceeded the personal net worth (PNW) threshold set for MBE/DBE program participants. Fully graduated firms may not be used for state and/or federal MBE/DBE procurement purposes.

Partially Graduated Firms - are firms that have one or more graduated NAICS codes, but have at least one assigned NAICS code for which they are not graduated. Only non-graduated codes may be used for state and/or federal MBE/DBE procurement purposes.

Click here to read more about NAICS codes

Click here for information regarding small business size standards