Business, Politics

Baltimore County procurement reform commission issues recommendations for improving county policies



TOWSON, MD—Baltimore County’s Blue Ribbon Procurement Commission this week issued its final report outlining recommendations for streamlining and improving the County’s procurement, purchasing, and contracting functions and outcomes.

“My administration remains committed to providing every resident and business with top quality services—and that means reforming our County’s procurement, purchasing, and contracting processes to ensure we’re providing efficient, ethical, and responsible government,” Olszewski said. “I want to thank all members of Baltimore County’s commission for their time and expertise and we look forward to using this important document as a blueprint to ensure we adopt creative and innovative practices that will improve services for years to come.”

Baltimore County Executive Johnny Olszewski established the blue ribbon panel for procurement reform in November 2020.

Chaired by attorney Philip M. Andrews and managed by the Office of Government Reform and Strategic Initiatives, the Commission conducted 19 public meetings since last December and has completed a comprehensive review and evaluation of the County’s procurement processes, policies, and practices.

“Despite the challenges of performing its duties and responsibilities during a pandemic, the Commission has worked with diligence, focus, and a resolute determination to produce a blueprint for improving the efficiency and effectiveness of County procurement, purchasing, and contracting processes and policies,” said Commission Chair Philip M. Andrews.

“I’m very proud of the Procurement Commission’s report. Chair Andrews and my fellow commissioners conducted a rigorous process concerning the county’s current policies in procurement, contracting and purchasing, said Councilman Wade Kach who served on the Commission. “The report’s recommendations reflect the industry’s highest standards of ethical and transparent practices.”

The Commission established subcommittees to study specific procurement policies and trends in the following subject areas:

  • Training, and Certification
  • Purchasing Code and Manual Revision
  • MBE/WBE/Small Business
  • Construction
  • Sustainability
  • Cooperative Purchasing
  • Fleet and Property Management
  • Best Practices

The Commission’s final report released today, provided over 50 recommendations for streamlining and improving the County’s procurement, purchasing, and contracting functions and outcomes, including:

Best Practices:

  • Raise the minimum procurement threshold from $25,000.
  • Increase communication about County procurements and the procurement process.
  • Develop a more centralized structure, elevating the role of procurement, and designating a Chief Procurement Officer.
  • Review, outline, and streamline responsibilities and processes across the enterprise.

Cooperative Purchasing

  • Consider opportunities for coordination in procurement across all County-affiliated entities, including BCPL, CCBC, and BCPS.
  • Review cooperative purchasing agreements on a regular basis and review cooperative purchasing opportunities.
  • Initiate an analysis of pooled health insurance with a comparison of costs and benefits.

Construction:

  • Encourage selection of construction firms with no prior work with Baltimore County.
  • Continue and/or expand the electronic bidding process.
  • Expedite and facilitate the processing of payments to construction contractors, accelerate the move towards electronic payments to contractors

Purchasing Code and Manual Revision:

  • Review and update Baltimore County’s purchasing Code and Manual.
  • Modernize and rename certain functions to reflect more accurate roles and responsibilities.

Training, and Certification:

  • Require annual training for all procurement card holders, approving officials, and department heads
  • Expand procurement and ethics training and require for all County employees involved in bids, scope of work development, requests for proposal, solicitations, and contract/project management.
  • Direct procurement cardholders to purchase from MBE/DBE/ WBE/SB companies when possible.

Sustainability:



  • Align County procurement practices with sustainability goals
  • Explore how the Baltimore County Code can integrate environmental justice into its procurement policies and planning.
  • Ensure that all solicitations should have a sustainability component
  • Support efforts for residents and the private sector to achieve net-zero emissions by 2045.
  • Facilitate cooperative purchasing of recycled content and environmentally preferred products and services.

MBE/WBE/Small Business:

  • Codify the MBE/DBE/WBE/SB programs in the County Code.
  • Align and publish department accountability measures on annual MBE/DBE/WBE/SB participation:
  • Make procurement and MBE/DBE/WBE/SB information readily available to all involved in procurement.
  • Increase Funding to market the MBE/DBE/WBE/SB program.

The Baltimore County Blue Ribbon Procurement Commission’s final report is available online here.

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