THE SUPPLIER CLEARINGHOUSE

THE SUPPLIER CLEARINGHOUSE

(formerly known as WMBE Clearinghouse)

BACKGROUND

Effective May, 30, 1988, the California Public Utilities Commission (CPUC)issued General Order 156, which provides uniform rules and guidelines for the participation of Women and Minority Business enterprises (WMBEs) in the procurement programs of California utility companies.  One provision of General Order 156 requires the establishment and maintenance of a central clearinghouse to verify the WMBE status of interested business, serve as a central database, and maintain records related to verification. The Supplier Clearinghouse now only operates only one regional center in Northern California.

BENEFITS OF THE SUPPLIER CLEARINGHOUSE

The Clearinghouse streamlines the WMBE Verification process for all firms interested in doing business with the participating public utilities in California. This single verification process and the shared database of verified WMBEs eliminate redundant verification processes and facilitate doing business with the utilities. Each utility company, however, will continue to perform supplier/contractor qualification on an individual basis separately from the Clearinghouse process. WMBE applicants will not be charged a fee for the services of the Clearinghouse.

Suppliers seeking information on potential procurement opportunities should contact the utilities’ WMBE procurement offices directly at the telephone numbers listed below. One of the benefits of completing this application is  that a limited amount of information will be made available to the general public. The database of eligible firms will be available to the
participating utilities listed on the next page.

LIST OF PARTICIPATING UTILITY COMPANIES

rev 5/07

CLEARINGHOUSE ROLE AND RESPONSIBILITIES

  • The Clearinghouse is responsible for verifying that WMBE applicants meet the eligibility criteria established under the authority of General Order 156. Specifically, a firm must be at least 51% owned by acombination of women and/or ethnic minorities and these individuals must manage and control the primary daily operations. Prospective WMBEs interested in a summary of General Order 156 may contact the Clearinghouse at the address noted on the front page.
  • The Clearinghouse is responsible for investigating WMBE status based on third-party complaints. Concerns about a firm’s eligibility for WMBE designation may be directed to the Clearinghouse in writing or via telephone with written follow-up.
  • The Clearinghouse will facilitate procurement by the participating utility companies with WMBEs by providing procurement representatives access to a current database of WMBE vendors. Verification by the Clearinghouse does not guarantee business with the utility companies in any way. It is not within the scope of services of the Clearinghouse to market WMBE products and services to the utilities.
  • The Clearinghouse solely verifies that a business meets eligibility criteria and ensures that essential profiling information is maintained in the clearinghouse database which may be accessed by the participating utilities and the California Public Utilities Commission. Individual utility companies may require additional information to assess the capability and competitiveness of the WMBE.
  • The Clearinghouse is responsible for making specified information available to the general public. The Clearinghouse will also make a list of Service Disabled Veterans available, although the Clearinghouse does not perform verification of veteran-owned businesses. Please contact the State of California, Office of Small and Minority Business, for information regarding verification of service-disabled veteran businesses.
  • The Clearinghouse also maintains the toll-free numbers noted on the front page to answer questions related to the WMBE verification process.

VERIFICATION PROCESS

  • The verification process entails the thorough review of a firm’s Verification Application with required documents demonstrating evidence of minority status, gender, ownership,management and control. This process is very comprehensive in order to ensure that verified vendors meet the intent of General Order 156.

Please refer to the “Supplier Clearinghouse Participation Agreement” in the enclosed application package for additional information.

  • The Clearinghouse will conduct all verification procedures and will maintain a direct liaison with the California Public Utilities Commission.
  • Effective February 1, 1991, the Supplier Clearinghouse implemented a streamlined “Comparable Agency Verification” procedure. Under this procedure, businesses which have been certified as WBE, MBE or Disadvantaged Business Enterprises (DBEs) by any of the comparable agencies may apply for WMBE for WMBE Verification to the Clearinghouse by submitting the following documents. There have been recent changes to the CAV process. Refer to the VAP instructions or call the San Francisco office for more details.

(1) a fully executed “Supplier Clearinghouse Verification Application”; and (2) a copy of a current letter or certification which grants WBE, MBE, or DBE (only if woman or minority business certified) status from any of the following agencies.   “Small” or “Local” business status is not accepted. If you are certified as a disadvantaged business only, we may ask you for proof of ethnicity or gender. However, changes have been made to the CAV
process. Please call for details

List of Comparable Agencies

  • National
    Minority Supplier Development
    Council (NMSDC)
  • U.S. Small Business
    Administration (SBA) 8(a) and Small Disadvantaged
    Business (SDB) only
  • Women’s
    Business Enterprise National
    Council (WBENC)

INITIAAPPLICATION

  • Verification application materials are kept confidential by the Clearinghouse, consistent with current applicable laws. Only those fields in the application designated by an asterisk (*) will be maintained in the electronic database and made available to the Public Utilities and the California Public Utilities Commission on a routine basis.
  • Those fields designated with a cross (+) are general information and will be made available to the general public.
  • No action will be taken on an application for verification until all required data and documentation has been received by the Clearinghouse. Once complete, a majority of the applications will be processed within 45 days. Application processing time varies since, on a case-by-case basis, the Clearinghouse may request additional supporting documentation, or conduct a site visit in order to determine the applicant’s WMBE eligibility.
  • The Clearinghouse has the right to request additional information and documentation it deems necessary to process an application. An applicant who fails to supply information cannot be verified. The Clearinghouse will contact an applicant twice by letter after the applicant’s initial submission if any further information is needed. Failure of an applicant to respond in a timely fashion will result in the closing of the applicant’s file.  Applicants reapplying for verification may be required to follow all original application procedures.

RE-VERIFICATION

  • Clearinghouse verification is valid for a three-year term, (with the exception of those firms verified under the comparable agency verification process, which matches a Clearinghouse verification period to the period assigned by the comparable agency, up to three years). WMBEs are required to reapply for verification every three years.   Reverification is not guaranteed.
  • The documentation required under the reverification process is significantly less than those required under an initial application.   There are two or three supporting documents, depending upon the business structure, required to be submitted. Please refer to Section 8 (page 2) of the application for additional information.
  • The Clearinghouse will notify WMBEs approximately two months prior to the expiration of the current verification. WMBEs must respond within 30 days of the Clearinghouse request by supplying a fully completed and signed application form, and requested documentation. Failure to do so will result in the WMBE being deverified and so noted in the Clearinghouse database until reapplication is completed and approved. It is your responsibility to advise the Clearinghouse of any change of address

Suppliers that are not verified because of incomplete documentation may only reapply to the Clearinghouse for verification by submitting all required documentation. If a company is denied WMBE verification, neither the company nor any owner, officer, or key employee of the company may reapply to the Clearinghouse for verification within 12 months after the date of the final Clearinghouse WMBE verification denial.

CHANGE IN OWNERSHIP, MANAGEMENT CONTROL, ADDRESS AND OPERATION

If, at any time, a WMBE Clearinghouse-verified business experiences a change of ownership, control, or operation, they must notify the Clearinghouse of these changes in writing and, if necessary, reapply for verification within 30 days of effective change. The Clearinghouse must also be notified of any change of address.

PRIME CONTRACTOR REFERRAL

Applications for verification will be sent to WMBE contractors by the Clearinghouse.  Prime contractors to each utility company are responsible for referring their subcontractors to the Clearinghouse to apply for verification. All applications should be returned directly to the Clearinghouse.

ASSISTANCE WITH THE APPLICATION PACKAGE

Please study the WMBE DOCUMENT CHECKLIST, APPLICATION FORM, AND PARTICIPATION AGREEMENT carefully. Make sure all required documents are included with your application and respond to all questions.  Failure to do so will delay the processing of your application. Please type or print legibly in blue or black ink.

The Supplier Clearinghouse is available to provide information or assistance free of charge regarding the completion of this application or the required supporting documentation. Please call toll-free:

San Francisco
Main Office: (800) 359-7998

Return the completed application with the DOCUMENT CHECKLIST and all required
documentation to the San Francisco Main Office and not to the CPUC or to any of the
participating utilities:

SUPPLIER CLEARINGHOUSE 1167
Mission Street, Fourth Floor
San Francisco, California 94103
(415) 928-6892

APPLICATION PACKAGE RECEIPT

The Clearinghouse strongly recommends applications be sent to the Clearinghouse by certified mail, return receipt requested or any type of receipt of delivery, so that both applicant and the Clearinghouse can document receipt of these materials. The Clearinghouse will send applicants a letter acknowledging receipt of the application materials and provide a confidential Verification Order Number (VON). The VON is used to track applications and to identify them in the database. It is important that you refer to this number when calling the Clearinghouse with any questions concerning your application. This requirement will preserve the confidentiality of applicants’ information.

GLOSSARY OF TERMS (Definitions apply for purposes of the Supplier Clearinghouse WMBE application process.)

WOMEN-OWNED BUSINESS: a business enterprise that is at least 51% owned by a woman or women; or, in the case of any publicly owned business, at least 51% of the stock of which is owned by one or more women, and whose management and primary daily business operations are controlled by one or more women.

MINORITY-OWNED BUSINESS: a business enterprise that is at least 51% owned by a
minority individual or group(s); or, in the case of any publicly owned business, at least 51% of the stock which is owned by one or more minority groups, and whose management and daily business operations are controlled by one or more of those individuals. The contracting utility shall presume that minority includes, but is not limited to, Black Americans, Hispanic Americans, Native Americans, Asian Pacific Americans, and other groups.

WMBE: a women-owned or minority-owned business enterprise; under these rules, the women and/or minorities owning such an enterprise should be either United States citizens or legal residence status in the U.S.

MULTI-STATUS: a business enterprise that is at least 51% owned by a combination of minorities and women but whose majority ownership (51%) is not vested with any one of these individuals or groups; and whose management and daily business operations are controlled by one or more of those individuals.

BLACKAMERICANS: persons having origins in any black racial groups of Africa.

HISPANIC AMERICANS: all persons of Mexican, Puerto Rican, Cuban, South or Central American, Caribbean, or other Spanish culture or origin.

NATIVE AMERICANS: persons having origin in any original peoples of North American
or the Hawaiian Islands, in particular, American Indians, Eskimos, Aleuts, and Native Hawaiians.

ASIAN PACIFIC AMERICANS: persons having origin in Asia or the Indian subcontinent, including, but not limited to, persons from Japan, China, the Philippines, Vietnam, Korea, Samoa, Guam, the U.S. Trust territories of the Pacific, Northern Marianas, Laos, Cambodia, Taiwan, India, Pakistan, and Bangladesh.

OTHER GROUPS: groups whose members are found to be socially and economically disadvantaged by the Small Business Administration pursuant to Section 8 (d) of the Small Business Act as amended (15 U.S.C. 637 (d)), or the Secretary of Commerce pursuant to Section 5 of Executive Order 11625.

CONTROL: exercising the power to make policy decisions.

OPERATE: being actively involved in the primary day-to-day management, and not merely acting as officers or directors.

UTILITY: all electric, gas, and telephone corporations with gross annual revenues exceeding twenty-five million dollars (25,000,000), and their Commission-regulated subsidiaries and affiliates.

SOLE PROPRIETORSHIP: a business which is owned and operated by one person.

PARTNERSHIP: an association of two or more persons to carry on as co-owners of a business for profit.

CORPORATION: a distinct  legal entity formed by the authority of a state government and
is separate from the individual(s) who own it.

CALIFORNIA PUBLIC UTILITIES COMMISSION (CPUC): California state agency responsible for regulating private, investors-owned utility and transportation companies; also responsible for monitoring compliance with G.O. 156.