Major overhaul of state contracting proposed, along with hundreds of changes to regulations

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MarylandReporter.com

The Hogan administration has unveiled a major overhaul of how billions in state contracts are bid and awarded, along with a revamping of hundreds of regulations designed to making doing business in Maryland easier.

Few of the changes have broad impact on the public at large, but they impact hundreds of state contractors and thousands of professionals, such as a real estate agents and mortgage brokers.

The final report of the Commission to Modernize State Procurement, chaired by Lt. Gov. Boyd Rutherford and made up of top state officials, makes 57 recommendations to modernize the state procurement system by utilizing new technologies, simplifying the bidding process, and providing better procurement training to state personnel and businesses.

The state also posted a new website, procurement.maryland.gov, as a comprehensive portal providing online access to Maryland procurement information.

“Modernizing our procurement process is vital to running a transparent, accountable, and fiscally responsible state government,” said Rutherford. “Once implemented, these recommendations will benefit Maryland for years to come by increasing competition for contracts, lowering transaction costs, and improving the professional development of our state procurement workforce.”

Revamping regulations

The report of the Regulatory Reform Commission Hogan created last year identified nearly 200 individual regulations to be streamlined or eliminated.

Hogan said that the administration will move forward implementing all 187 recommendations.

“This is the most wide-ranging review of state regulations Maryland has undertaken in decades, and the commission’s efforts exposed dozens and dozens of onerous, outdated, and redundant regulations that make government less efficient and effective,” said Rutherford, who also serves on the Regulatory Reform Commission. “The reforms in this report will improve our business climate, protect consumers, and benefit our environment.”

The commission’s workgroups evaluated regulations based on four sets of criteria: whether the regulation can be streamlined or clarified, modernized, stripped of obsolete references, or made to conform with state or federal statutory requirements. Agencies that participated in the review will file updated regulatory language with the legislature’s Joint Committee on Administrative, Executive, and Legislative Review  in the coming weeks.

Many of the proposed regs update language that has been superseded by new laws, or simply repeal regulations that no longer apply. Among the many quaint provisions related to racing one proposal removes the requirement for a bell to be rung indicating time for jockeys at racetracks to saddle their horses.

Many of the changes in regulations allow businesses and individuals to submit applications and reports online, rather than by paper.

Another section of the report continues the broad customer service initiative across state agencies Hogan announce in June.

To improve customer service, the state Department of the Environment and Department of Transportation will be amending regulations regarding the Vehicle Emissions Inspection Program to “expand the use of emerging technologies and provide opportunities to enact driver-friendly improvements.”

The Real Estate Commission under the Department of Labor, Licensing and Regulation will eliminate a list of distance learning methods (compact disc, computer, disk, etc.) and cross references methods named in statute as well as any method approved by the Maryland Real Estate Commission.

Gov. Hogan signed an executive order establishing the Regulatory Reform Commission in July 2015. The commission includes 10 members appointed by the governor with a range of experience in various sectors representing regions across the state.

The governor’s executive order remains in effect for a 3-year period, and requires the commission to submit an annual report to the governor no later than December 1 of each year. For more information, visit http://governor.maryland.gov/ltgovernor/home/regulatory-reform.

The procurement commission was established by Governor Hogan’s executive order in February 2016 and consists of 19 members, including Lt. Gov. Rutherford, Comptroller Peter Franchot, Treasurer Nancy Kopp, and Cabinet Secretaries David Brinkley, Ellington Churchill, Jimmy Rhee, Pete Rahn, and David Garcia.  For more information visit: http://governor.maryland.gov/ltgovernor/home/procurement-modernization/