1.2 General Overview
1.3 Public Access Procurement Information
1.4 Fundamentals for All Vendors
1.5 Fundamentals for Procurement Professionals
1.6 Unlawful Actions
Welcome to Maryland Procurement!
The Maryland Procurement Manual (Manual) reviews the General Procurement Law of the State of Maryland as set forth in Division II of the State Finance and Procurement Article of the Maryland Annotated Code (SFP) and implemented by Title 21 of the Code of Maryland Regulations (COMAR). It is intended to give the reader a practical understanding of one of the primary functions of State government that directly impacts virtually every agency and public need. The Manual is not a substitute for the procurement law, regulations, or policies, but instead provides a general overview of State Procurement.
To the extent that any policy, procedure, or guideline conflicts with Division II of the SFP, any other applicable statute or State procurement regulations, the state or regulation shall prevail. The Manual contents applies to State agencies subject to Division II of the SFP. Standards for other agencies may vary. The State may change, delete, waive, suspend, or discontinue parts of, or the entirety of this Manual, at any time without prior notice. Please check back here for the latest procurement information since updates occur regularly.
Please direct any questions or comments regarding the Manual to Jamie Tomaszewski at Jamie.firstname.lastname@example.org and Judy Urban at Judy.email@example.com.
1.2.1 State Procurement Principles
The principal purposes and policies of Maryland State procurement are as follows:
- Providing for increased confidence in State procurements;
- Ensuring fair and equitable treatment of all persons who deal with the State procurement system;
- Providing safeguards for maintaining a State procurement system of quality and integrity;
- Fostering effective broad-based competition in the State through support of the free enterprise system;
- Promoting increased long-term economic efficiency and responsibility in the State by encouraging the use of recycled materials and environmentally preferable products and services. (See Section 1.4.5);
- Providing increased economy in the State procurement system;
- Getting the maximum benefit from the purchasing power of the State;
- Simplifying, clarifying, and modernizing the law that governs State procurement;
- Allowing the continued development of procurement regulations, policies, and practices in the State; and
- Promoting development of uniform State procurement procedures to the extent possible.
1.2.2 Structure of Maryland Procurement
Board of Public Works
Procurement authority in the State is primarily vested in the Board of Public Works (BPW), a three-member administrative body consisting of the Governor, Comptroller, and State Treasurer. This governmental entity is unique in the nation. The current structure of the BPW was established by an 1864 amendment to the Maryland Constitution. The BPW convenes approximately every other week, in meetings open to the public, to review, approve, and oversee several statutorily mandated projects and programs, including significant State expenditures for certain capital improvements, and the oversight of the sale, lease, or transfer of State real and personal property. The review and approval of procurement awards of certain dollar amounts are delegated to designated “Control Agencies” within State government, with those Control Agencies providing a monthly report to the BPW of procurement awards approved by the Control Agency. See Section 7 of this Manual for further information on the awards process as it relates to the BPW, including dollar amount thresholds for procurement actions requiring BPW approval.
State procurement authority is currently delegated to the following Control Agencies, also known as Primary Procurement Units or Control Authorities, up to specific dollar amount thresholds as set in regulation by the BPW :
- Department of General Services (DGS): Capital construction improvements contracts; capital construction-related services; architectural and engineering contracts; maintenance contracts; professional services; purchases, leases and rentals of motor vehicles for State officials and employees; electronic information processing hardware and software, including maintenance, telecommunications, and associated consulting services; commodities and supplies; and real estate leases, per COMAR 21.02.05.05.
- Department of Transportation (MDOT): Transportation-related construction, capital construction, architectural and engineering, maintenance, and equipment contracts; supplies and services for aeronautics-related activities; capital expenditure contracts in connection with State roads, bridges, or highways.
- The Treasurer (STO): Banking, investment, and other financial services contracts; insurance and insurance-related services contracts.
- Maryland Port Administration (MPA): Port facility-related construction, construction-related services, architectural and engineering, maintenance, equipment, services (including information technology services), commodities and supplies, and leases of real property.
There are three additional Primary Procurement Units that are not Control Agencies. Those three are the University System of Maryland (USM), Morgan State University (MSU), and St. Mary’s College of Maryland (SMCM). This Procurement Manual is not designed to cover these three units as they follow their own procurement policies and procedures, and with the exception of the Small Business Reserve (USM and MSU), the Minority Business Enterprise Program (MBE) and select other provisions, these three units are exempt from COMAR Title 21, the State’s Procurement Regulations.
Procurement Reform Efforts – Chief Procurement Officer
There has been a significant increase in recent years in the number of commissions and studies tasked with reviewing Maryland State procurement laws, regulations, practices and procedures. These efforts culminated in the 2016 Commission to Modernize State Procurement, resulting in several bills passed in the 2017 legislative session of the General Assembly to reform and restructure State procurement.
Perhaps the most significant changes to current law are included in 2017 House Bill 1021, Reorganization of State Procurement (signed into law as Chapter 590, Laws of Maryland 2017 Session). Effective October 1, 2019, this statute creates the procurement leadership position of the Chief Procurement Officer (CPO) within the Department of General Services and transfers procurement control authority from the Departments of Budget and Management, Public Safety and Correctional Services, and Information Technology to the Department of General Services.
This Procurement Manual will be updated periodically to reflect these upcoming changes, as well as any other changes to State procurement structure or practices.
1.2.3 Brief Overview of the Sections in this Procurement Manual
Sections 2 through 8 of the Procurement Manual are structured in the general chronological order of State procurement activity:
Section 2, Need Identification, focuses on the various types of goods and services that are procured by the State. Exemptions from State procurement regulations are covered, as well as the issuing of Requests for Information (RFI) prior to publishing procurement solicitations.
Section 3, Pre-Solicitation, covers the planning stages prior to preparing a procurement solicitation, including identifying potential procurement sources, budget certification steps, delegated purchasing authority, selecting the appropriate solicitation method, and finally, planning out the solicitation, including the timeline and schedule.
Section 4, Solicitation Preparation, includes procedures for drafting the solicitation, using third-party consultants when appropriate, setting MBE and Veteran-Owned Small Business Enterprises (VSBE) participation goals via a Procurement Review Group (PRG), and the review and approval process for solicitations.
Section 5, Solicitation, provides the steps for public advertisement and other notices of the solicitation, pre-bid/proposal conferences, requirements regarding communications with vendors, procedures for amending solicitations, receipt of vendor responses to solicitations, revisions to or withdrawals of vendor-submitted responses, and cancellations of solicitations.
Section 6, Review / Evaluation Process, covers the opening of vendor responses to solicitations, the conducting of initial reviews of vendor responses, vendor revisions or “cures” to proposals, the evaluation process for technical proposals, discussions with offerors, the opening and evaluation of financial proposals, best and final offers (BAFOs), the selection and recommendations of contract awards, and finally, debriefings of offerors.
Section 7, Award Process, includes the steps for approving contract awards, including agency approval limits, approvals by control agencies, and approval of contracts by BPW.
Section 8, Contract Administration Process, focuses on post-contract award activities including kick-off meetings with contractors, monitoring of contractor performance, tools for contract compliance, payments for goods or services received, contract renewal options and modifications, re-procurement plans, and contract closeouts or transitions to new contracts.
1.3.1 eMaryland Marketplace Advantage (eMMA)
Maryland conducts the majority of its procurements through eMMA, the online procurement system that provides vendors, State personnel, and the public with easy access to State procurement information. Vendors have the ability to use eMMA to, among other things:
- Create a vendor profile;
- Complete the SBR self-certification;
- Receive notice of bid opportunities;
- Search for contracting opportunities;
- Submit bids electronically (when allowed); and
- Obtain bid results online.
Access to eMMA can be obtained through the “Login and Register” for eMMA link on the State’s Procurement Website: https://procurement.maryland.gov.
Note: For some Maryland Department of Transportation (MDOT) construction and maintenance solicitations, vendors are required to register and utilize Bid Express to submit a bid. https://www.bidx.com/maryland/main
1.3.2 State Procurement Website https://procurement.maryland.gov/
The State Procurement website includes links to information including BPW Advisories, Statewide Contracts, Green Purchasing, Competitive Procurement Checklists, Timelines and Templates, Best Practices, and other valuable information to assist you in procuring goods and services for the State.
Additionally, access to the State Finance and Procurement (SFP) Article and the Code of Maryland Regulations (COMAR) is available through links on this site.
1.4 Fundamentals for All Vendors, including Small, Minority-owned, Women-owned, & Veteran-owned Businesses
1.4.1 In general, Businesses Must Register To Do Business with the State.
18.104.22.168 Maryland posts most procurements on eMMA. Vendors must register on eMMA to receive notifications of procurement opportunities and to receive a contract award. When a vendor creates a profile on eMMA, it will be required to indicate whether the firm is registered as a small business, certified as a minority- or woman-owned business, or verified as a veteran-owned business and designate what classifications of goods or services it provides. Vendors are encouraged to add as many product and service categories using the United Nations Standard Products and Services Code® (UNSPSC®) codes/commodities to their profiles as appropriate. This will help ensure that automated notices of procurement opportunities are delivered directly to the vendors’ e-mail. Questions pertaining to the UNSPSC can be researched here: https://www.unspsc.org/.
22.214.171.124 To be eligible for a Maryland contract award, vendors must be registered and in good standing as required by the State Department of Assessment and Taxation (SDAT), and not on the State debarment list. http://dat.maryland.gov/businesses/Pages/default.aspx
126.96.36.199 Maryland has created online tools allowing vendors to conduct a variety of activities including: register and start a business, register a trade name, and establish tax accounts in Maryland. To perform such activities, a vendor can use the State’s Business Express website: https://businessexpress.maryland.gov/
1.4.2 Small Business Reserve (SBR) Program
Maryland created the SBR Program to allow small businesses to compete against other small businesses instead of larger, more established companies for contract awards. Once a solicitation has been designated as “SBR,” an award can only be made to a registered SBR vendor.
Agencies are required to spend at least 15% of their total fiscal year expenditures on qualified small businesses procurements. Effective October 1, 2017, the SBR Program applies to all designated State agencies. The SBR Program is a race- and gender-neutral program. To participate, an SBR vendor must be a for-profit business that meets the established small business requirements. The self-certification process is done through eMMA. SBR criteria can be found at: http://gomdsmallbiz.maryland.gov/Pages/sbr-Program.aspx.
All participating agencies/departments have an SBR Liaison who advocates for small businesses. The list of liaison officers can be found on the Governor’s Office of Small, Minority & Women Business Affairs’ website at: https://gomdsmallbiz.maryland.gov/Pages/SBR-Liaison-Directory.aspx
1.4.3 Veteran-Owned Small Business Enterprises (VSBE)
The State’s overall goal for VSBE participation is 1% of the dollar value of each agency’s total procurements, through direct (prime) or indirect (subcontractor) VSBE participation.
Details on how to confirm a VSBE with federal Vetbiz verification by the Center for Verification and Evaluation of the United States Department of Veterans Affairs are available at https://www.vip.vetbiz.gov/.
Agencies are required to review each procurement and set appropriate VSBE participation goals. Agencies must assure that a contract award is not made until a recommended awardee has committed to the established VSBE participation goal by subcontracting with a verified VSBE or has requested a waiver and demonstrated a good faith effort to meet the goal. After a contract has been awarded, VSBE compliance is closely monitored.
Oversight of the VSBE and SBR programs is provided by the Governor’s Office of Small, Minority & Women Business Affairs.
1.4.4 Minority Business Enterprise (MBE) Program
The State’s current overall goal for MBE participation is 29% of the dollar value of each agency’s total procurements, through direct (prime) or indirect (subcontractor) MBE participation. The MBE Program applies to all participating State agencies, and each agency is required to structure its procurement procedures to try to achieve the overall MBE goal each fiscal year. If there is federal funding for the procurement, the MBE Program requirements may be superseded by the federal Disadvantaged Business Enterprise (DBE) Program. (See Section 3.2.1C below).
Agencies are required to review each procurement and set appropriate MBE participation goals as well as subgoals based on GOSBA Guidelines. Agencies must ensure that a contract award is not made until a recommended awardee has committed to the established MBE participation goal, if any, through the use of certified MBEs or has requested a waiver and demonstrated a good faith effort to meet the goals. After a contract has been awarded, the contractor and any subcontractor(s) will be required to provide the agency with periodic reports that the agency will use to monitor MBE compliance.
Each participating agency has an MBE liaison officer who coordinates agency outreach efforts to the MBE community, reviews agency contracting procedures to ensure compliance, assists in the resolution of contracting issues, and submits required MBE program reports or information on behalf of the agency. The list of liaison officeres is available on the Governor’s Office of Small, Minority & Women Business Affairs’ website at https://gomdsmallbiz.maryland.gov/Pages/MBE-Liaison-Directory.aspx.
To become certified as a Maryland MBE, vendors must meet all eligibility standards and complete a certification process administered by the MDOT’s Office of Minority Business Enterprise. Information on the eligibility standards and the certification process can be found on MDOT’s website at http://www.mdot.maryland.gov/newMDOT/MBE/Index.html. Once certified, a firm must renew annually to maintain its MBE certification status.
1.4.5 Maryland Environmentally Preferable Purchasing (EPP) Program
The Green Maryland Act of 2010 established the Maryland Green Purchasing Committee (GPC), an inter-agency body to administer an environmentally preferable purchasing program for the state. Chaired by General Services, the GPC aims to foster the health of our communities and environment by promoting sustainable procurement practices in government. The GPC publishes and maintains Environmentally Preferable Purchasing (EPP) specifications for several commodities and services categories that should be incorporated into relevant solicitations and contracts, as appropriate.
Maryland has enacted several laws and regulations related to environmentally preferable purchasing that Procurement staff should be familiar with. Procurement agencies are required to purchase environmentally preferable products or services, unless they do not perform adequately, are not available for a reasonable price in a reasonable period of time, or exclude competition. There are also numerous other requirements and prohibitions related to commodity or service specific procurements.
Agencies should utilize the Green Purchasing Checklist for State of Maryland Employees at the beginning of each procurement to ensure relevant specifications are included. This checklist can be found on the State’s Procurement website.
More about the Maryland Green Purchasing Committee, including relevant statutes, regulations, and environmentally preferable specifications can be found at: https://dgs.maryland.gov/Pages/GreenPurchasing/index.aspx
1.4.6 Maryland Nonvisual Access (NVA)
The State’s nonvisual access (NVA) standards, detailed in COMAR 14.33.02.01, et seq., are a set of requirements designed to provide blind and visually impaired persons the means to engage in the same interactions and to enjoy the same services offered to other persons with the same privacy, independence, and ease of use. These standards implement State law mandating equivalent access.
Subject to certain exceptions, agencies are required to procure information technology and information technology services that comply with the NVA standards. Where exceptions to this requirement are sought, agencies should reach out to their Assistant Attorney General (AAG) and the Department of Information Technology.
Impact of NVA – Why this is important?
As noted, state law requires compliance with the NVA standards. Moreover, citizens have come to view digital access as a civil right. Courts throughout the US have determined that barriers to accessing information and communication technology are discriminatory and in violation of the federal Americans with Disabilities Act. The practice of accessibility is both a means of enabling usability by citizens and a tool to reduce agencies’ risk level. Finally, as State government continues to pursue a more diverse workforce, accessibility helps to ensure that the State is able to provide a competitive, equitable workplace.
Procurement Officers: What should they do?
For accessibility to be effective, it needs to be achievable in terms of cost and other resources. This means building accessibility into the procurement process from the beginning and not as a post-award afterthought. Therefore, specific accessibility language, activities, evaluation methods and other criteria should be incorporated by the procurement office in key phases of the procurement lifecycle.
At minimum it is recommended that Procurement Officers:
- Familiarize themselves with relevant statutes and regulations.
- Ensure solicitations incorporate required language related to NVA requirements.
- Verify proposals are in compliance with NVA regulations.
- Validate accuracy of vendor NVA reporting after award.
Where to get Help:
Technical assistance is available from the Department of Information Technology and the Department of Disabilities.
Maryland Department of Disabilities (MDOD)
MDOD – NVA Statewide IT Initiative – Resources for Government Website
MDOD – NVA Procurement Guidance for Procurement Officers
References: IT Accessibility Initiative
1.5.1 Getting Started
As a procurement officer, bolster your knowledge and chances of success by:
- Keeping a copy of COMAR Title 21 at your desk to reference as needed (daily);
- Asking questions from knowledgeable procurement staff; and
- Attending procurement training classes, reading articles and books.
Before you begin a procurement, confirm that you have the authority to do so. Depending on the procurement type and anticipated total dollar value of the contract, different levels of approval may be required. (See Sections 3 and 7 for more information.)
Procurement is not performed by a single individual. While the procurement officer is responsible for conducting the procurement, other functions are performed by the program staff, MBE/SBR/VSBE liaison officers, evaluation committee, attorneys, and other staff or user agencies. There are also buyers who use existing contracts and conduct small procurements to acquire the items or services needed by their agency; inventory clerks who oversee the inventory of supplies and materials owned and stocked by an agency, and the contract monitors who administer the contracts after award.
1.5.2 Training and Development
As a procurement officer, engaging in ongoing training and professional development is key to maintaining proficiency. Online webinars, State procurement training classes, sustainable procurement training offered by the Maryland Green Purchasing Committee (GPC), classes from the National Institute of Governmental Purchasing (NIGP) and the Maryland Public Purchasing Association (MPPA), and training and certification programs, for example Certified Professional Public Buyer (CPPB) and Certified Public Procurement Officer (CPPO), through universities and colleges can be used to deepen your knowledge of procurement practices and prepare you for a successful career.
1.5.3 Setting Up (and Maintaining) the Procurement File
The Procurement File is the official record of everything and should include:
- A record of all solicitation inquiries required to be recorded;
- A listing of every bidder or offeror solicited;
- All bids or offers received;
- All internal and external correspondence regarding the procurement;
- Written documentation from the procurement officer describing efforts to confirm the information in the affidavits submitted by the successful bidder or offeror, including, at a minimum, verification that the business has not been suspended or debarred by the State or federal government; and
- The final contract.
The procurement officer is responsible for creating, updating and maintaining the Procurement File from the beginning to the end of the procurement.
State procurement professionals must comply with the Maryland Public Ethics Law, Maryland Code Annotated, General Provisions, Title 5. Violation of the Public Ethics Law may result in disciplinary action up to and including termination from State employment. For more information on the Public Ethics Law, please see the following links:
A few examples of prohibited conduct are:
- An official or employee or official may not intentionally use the prestige of his office for personal gain or that of another.
- An official or employee may not participate in an official action, decision or matter in circumstances where the official or employee has in interest or where certain relatives of the official or employee have an interest.
- An official or employee may not hold any employment relationship that would impair his impartiality or independence of judgment.
- An official or employee may not disclose or use for personal economic benefit, or that of another, confidential information acquired by reason of his public position.
- A former official or employee may not assist or represent anyone other than the State for compensation in a case, contract or other specific matter involving the State, if that matter is one in which he significantly participated as an official or employee.
- Employees may not solicit gifts for themselves or others, and generally may not accept gifts from lobbyists or those regulated by or doing (or seeking to do) business with the employee’s agency.
Maryland law also includes procurement-specific statutes under SFP Title 13 governing unlawful conduct and promises; conflict of interests; and participation in procurement. Procurement professionals and vendors seeking to do business with the State should be aware of the following provisions:
Pursuant to SF&P §13-211, during a procurement, a competing contractor may not:
- Offer, or even discuss, future employment or business opportunity with any procurement official of the agency conducting the procurement;
- Offer or give any money, gratuity, or other thing of value to any procurement official of the agency conducting the procurement; or
- Solicit or obtain from any officer or employee of an agency conducting the procurement, before the award of a contract, any proprietary or source selection information regarding the procurement.
Pursuant to SF&P §13-212, if a solicitation involves selecting a contractor who will assist in the formation, award, or execution of any State contract, the solicitation document must require that a bidder or offeror provide an affidavit that discloses any actual or potential conflict of interests.
Pursuant to SF&P §13-212.1, with some exceptions, an individual (or his employer) who assists in drafting a solicitation or selecting an awardee may not:
- Submit a response to that solicitation; or
- Assist or represent another person who is submitting a response to that solicitation.
The above identified laws should be strictly adhered to during each and every phase of a procurement, vendor meetings, vendor demos, market studies etc.
 This Manual does not review the Maryland Minority Business Enterprise Program Manual (Amended July 2014) (MBE Program Manual), which is incorporated by reference into COMAR pursuant to COMAR 11.01.10.01or the Federal Disadvantaged Business Enterprise Program (Rev. April 2018) (DBE Program Manual), which is required pursuant to 49 C.F.R. Part 26. These Program Manuals apply to MBE and DBE procurement matters at the Maryland Department of Transportation, which encompasses the Maryland Aviation Administration, Maryland Port Administration, Maryland Transit Administration, Motor Vehicle Administration, State Highway Administration, and Maryland Transportation Authority.
 University System of Maryland Procurement Policies and Procedures:
; Morgan State University Procurement Policies and Procedures:
; St. Mary’s College Procurement Policies and Procedures:
 Link to the State of Maryland MBE Program Subgoal Directive and Guidelines for Setting Contract Subgoals:
 Link to COMAR online: http://www.dsd.state.md.us/COMAR/ComarHome.html