By Sam Smith
The Maryland Board of Public Works approved the creation of 44 gambling regulation jobs within the Maryland Lottery and Gaming Control Agency that are directly associated with the passage of Question 7 for expanded gambling in last week’s election.
The powerful board, which comprises the governor, treasurer and comptroller, also approved hiring a consulting service to help update procurement practices for state agencies.
The newly created positions will enable the gaming control agency to perform its regulatory responsibilities that were included in the gambling legislation passed in the August special session, which called for the creation of a Lottery and Gaming Commission in addition to many other provisions. The new positions include seven commissioners, management for the oversight of table games, licensing and financial investigators and compliance officers.
New gaming agency employees cost $1.7 million
The funding for the new employees is estimated at $1.7 million, coming strictly from the state’s general funds.
“We have an obligation in contract with state ownership of slot machines which ends March 31, 2015,” said Stephen Martino, director of Maryland Lottery Gaming and Control Agency. “Until that time general funds will be used to underwrite the cost and expenses of the regulation.”
Martino said that he expects most of the positions to be filled locally. He said that when searching to fill the positions the agency has received hundreds of Maryland applications.
Comptroller Peter Franchot asked if any consideration was given as to where the agency will be located and suggested that it would make an ideal fit for state presence in Prince George’s county, which will house the casino at National Harbor. The current location of the gaming agency is the Montgomery Office Park in Baltimore City.
“I am not saying that this should substitute for other state agencies in Prince George’s county,” Franchot said. “But this is an opportunity … since it is convenient to Anne Arundel County and also Baltimore City, it is close to National Harbor.”
Procurement consultant to start in December
The state’s $150,000 contract for procurement consulting services was awarded to the Treya Partners who have advised other states in the updating their procurement processes. On Dec. 4, Treya will start a 12-week program designed to make the state’s procurement process more effective.
“In the last six years we have been bumping up against what was probably a very effective procurement process for its time back in the 70s, but it is no longer open or transparent,” said Gov. Martin O’Malley. “It think that this is a golden opportunity.”
The company’s co-founder Mark Usher told the board that the program is divided into three phases. The assessment phase will allow the consultants to understand the challenges in current procurement processes, while the visioning phase will allow procurement officers and agency employees to add input into how the problems will be addressed. In the final phase, the consultants create an implementation plan that they will present to the board.
“What we have seen in the other state governments that we have worked with is when we start working the individuals, there is a real appetite to be involved in improving procurement policies,” Usher said. “We have found in our experience that everyone wants to do a good job. But sometimes the processes and the structure that is set up just doesn’t allow people to do the type of job as they would want to do.”
The board’s procurement advisor, Mary Jo Childs, said that a state project team has been assembled to assist the consultants. The team consists of representatives from the state’s largest procurement agencies. O’Malley said he would like to see members of the General Assembly included in the process.