Minority owned business certification when minority status is questioned or contested

So as to not hijack WillFarnaby’s GD thread, since he declared it not relevant

The US government (and others) sometimes give preferential treatment to minority*-owned businesses when awarding contracts. There doesn’t seem to be a completely uniform standard, and I see that some agencies/departments rely on some sort of external certification. But in general, the company must be 51% (or more) owned, operated, and controlled by members of a disadvantaged group. With membership (where race or ethnicity is concerned) being defined as having 25% or more of your heritage from some groups.

There’s a lot of fraud here, IME usual around the company not actually being operated by figurehead owners, or acting as a front for subcontractors. But my question is around that 25% heritage requirement.

Who makes that call?

Race and ethnicity are fuzzy social constructs that not everyone agrees on. For government statistics purposes, AFAIK race and ethnicity are entirely self-defined. And I’m guessing that most people would agree about most other people’s race or ethnicity, but there are sometimes cases of disagreement. And when that comes to preferential treatment when awarding government contracts, that disagreement involves money on the table.

Here’s a DOT form (PDF): https://www.transportation.gov/sites/dot.gov/files/docs/New%20DBE%20Certification%20Application%2011-18-2014_0.pdf

That looks pretty self-defined, but I’m wondering if there are any disagreements (“You’re not black/hispanic/whatever”, “yes I am”, “no you’re not”, “am too”, “nuh uh”), and how, if ever, that gets resolved.

*Minority-owned business, women-owned business, Minority Business Enterprise, Disadvantaged Business Enterprise…there are lots of terms used, all complicating searches.

Most Native American tribes have rolls of official members so they could prove their status if it was questioned.

Several non-government agencies provide certification as an MWBE, MBE, or WBE. It is an extensive process and there are many consulting groups and workshops to help obtain certification. It was a really big deal when my former employer got theirs and I was required to submit a copy on every proposal I made, even if there were no requirements to do so. Each agency has their own requirements and guidelines.

I worked for a tribe for some time. Those rolls are often very hotly debated and people are frequently added/removed based on tribal political reasons. Which then circles back to the OP’s question.

Just as a related note. Rich Rodriguez is an American college football coach. He’s often classified as ‘Hispanic.’ I’ve heard him called the only Hispanic coach in college. The reality is that he was born in Grant Town, West Virginia and is descended from Asturian (a region in northern Spain) miners who came at the end of the 19th and beginning of the 20th centuries. There were a ton of them that settled in the area and their descendents are about as underprivileged as the Trump family. They are for all intents and purposes as white as the driven snow in how they are treated within the community. When I first heard the term Hispanic applied to him, I was actually confused since I’ve never thought of him or any of the various Asturians floating around as anything other than white, but then I went “Oh yeah, Rodriguez.” The bottom line though is that comparing Asturian-Americans in the various coal belts to migrant workers in California is perhaps correct in some sort of technical genetic sense, but not even close to representing the reality of their respective existences. I actually did an Ancestry.com test and came out as 21% Iberian. Most likely one of my greats is either not who we thought they were or they name shifted to something more generically “American” (Lilley is one of my ancestral names which is awful close to Lillo - an Asturian name. It’s a theory anyway.) Point being though that I’m a pale-skinned, blonde-haired, red-bearded by all appearances white dude who has never suffered a day of under-privilege in my life, but I could fall under the EEOC definition of Hispanic.

I’m more interest in non-NA situations, where there aren’t tribal rolls.

I mentioned, and someone else did as well, external certifying organizations. This is one of them:

But I haven’t found any more detail than what’s on that page under “Criteria”.