HOW TO CERTIFY YOUR LOCAL BUSINESS WITH US AND/OR BECOME A CITY VENDOR
IV. Where can I get more information about this and other certification programs for small businesses?
Businesses contracting with the City and County of San Francisco may be eligible for one of three types of certifications designed to help them compete more effectively on City contracts. Each type of Certification is described below. To read about a specific type of Certification, choose from the topics below.
A. Local Business
Enterprise("LBE") Certification (for Businesses Head-Quartered in San Francisco)
- Requirements for LBE Certification
- Maximum Economic Thresholds for LBE Certification
- Goods and Services Eligible for LBE Certification
- In addition to being certified, should I also become a City Vendor?
- Application for LBE Certification
- Application for LBE Re-Certification
B. PUC Local Business
Enterprise("PUC-LBE") Certification (for Businesses Head-Quartered in the "SFPUC Waterway System Area")
C. Non-Profit Entity ("NPE") Certification (for Non-Profit Entities Head-Quartered in
Although LBE, PUC-LBE and NPE certification is not required for bidding on City contracts, certified firms can compete more effectively on City contracts because they benefit from, among other things, (A) City subcontracting goals set for most City contracts, (B) "bid discounts", and (C) "micro-set asides." These benefits, which are summarized below, are contingent upon a certified firm's average gross receipts over a period of three years directly preceding the date of certification.
Benefit 1: Certified Firms help the City meet Subcontracting Goals designed to Increase Local Business Participation on City Contracts
The Human Rights Commission works with all City agencies to establish specific subcontracting goals designed to increase participation of local businesses on City Contracts. Specifically, these goals require all City agencies to award a certain percentage of many of their contracts to LBE, PUC-LBE and NPE certified firms. City agencies are required by law to either meet these goals or show why they are exempt from so doing.
Benefit 2: ertified Firms are Eligible to receive Bid Discounts when Bidding on City Contracts
Bids submitted by LBE, PUC-LBE and NPE certified firms are generally reduced by either 10% or 2% when compared against those submitted by non-certified firms, thus making them more competitive than they would otherwise be. A 10% bid discount is available to LBE, PUC-LBE and NPE certified firms whose gross receipts over a period of three years directly preceding the date of certification do not exceed HRC’s “Micro” and/or “Small” economic thresholds with respect to a particular certification category. LBE certified that exceed HRC's "Micro" and "Small" economic thresholds may still be eligible for a 2% bid discount if their gross receipts over a period of three years directly preceding the date of certification do not exceed HRC’s “SBA” economic thresholds with respect to a particular certification category. Please note that "SBA" economic thresholds are available only to LBE certified firms and are not available to PUC-LBE or NPE certified firms.
Benefit 3: "MICRO" sized Certified firms are Eligible to Participate on City Contracts Specifically Set-Aside for Them ("Micro Set-Aside Program")
Because small firms generally lack the capacity and capital to participate directly on large City contracts, their participation on such contracts is limited to serving as sub-contractors to larger firms whose capacity enables them to bid directly on City contracts. In an effort to reduce small firms' reliance on larger firms when participating on City contracts, the City has devised a "Micro Set-Aside Program" whereby smaller contracts are carved out specifically for small, local firms to bid on directly. In order to participate in the Micro Set-Aside Program, a firm must: (i) Have gross receipts over a period of three years directly preceding the date of certification that do not exceed HRC’s “Micro” economic thresholds with respect to a particular certification category; and (ii) Apply for and receive a Vendor Number from the City by completing a Vendor Packet (See Section III).
III. Why should I become a City Vendor if I am already LBE, PUC-LBE or NPE certified?
Becoming Certified is NOT the same thing as becoming a City Vendor! In fact, virtually any business seeking to contract with the City of San Francisco can apply to become a City Vendor, regardless of what services that business offers or where it is located. In contrast, applying to become LBE, PUC-LBE and NPE Certified requires that a business, whether it be a City Vendor or not, must also meet the numerous certification requirements outlined in Section I. While not required for Certification, we encourage all Certified firms that seek to contract with the City and County of San Francisco – either now or sometime in the future – to become a City Vendor by completing a City Vendor Packet. By becoming a City vendor, a Certified business will be eligible to bid directly on all City Contracts. This is particularly important for: (a) Certified firms that seek to participate in the City's Micro-Set Aside Program discussed in Benefit 3 under Section II and (b) Certified firms that may engage in Purchase Contracts under $10,000 with the City, as such contracts are not generally awarded through a formal bidding process but, rather, awarded directly to a firm of the City's choice. To learn more about contracting with the City and County of San Francisco and/or to become a City Vendor, click on the following links:
What types of contracts does City of San Francisco offer?
Ready to become a City Vendor? Click here to download the forms required for becoming a City Vendor
- For questions about the certification process: Beverly Popek at (415) 252-2520 or Beverly.Popek@sfgov.org
- For questions about a specific City contract or assistance in completing HRC forms and attachments: Click Here
- Applicable City Laws: San Francisco Administrative Code Chapter 14B & Chapter 14B Rules and Regulations
- You can also come to our FREE WORKSHOPS!
- Would you like to learn about other certification programs for small businesses? Click here to for a copy of HRC's 2011 Guide to Certification Programs for Businesses.
Certification Unit Staff
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Beverly Popek/ Unit Representative