“I Can See Clearly Now…the Procurement Regs Are Here”

Hey, now!  It isn’t 1972 and John Lester “Johnny” Nash, Jr., did not jump from his singer-songwriter gig to writing regulations for Baltimore City, but to be sure, fall is here, the rain is (mostly) gone, and we have a much clearer view of the totality of applicable Baltimore City procurement regulations. It is now much easier for contractors, suppliers, and vendors to find City regulations concerning the procurement process. In fact, I think that it is fair to say that in March 2019, the Board of Estimates (the “BOE”) took a giant leap toward efficiency and continuity when it approved the new Regulations on Procurement, Protests, Minority and Women-owned Business Enterprise, and Debarment/Suspension (the “Procurement Regulations”).  

For many years, those of us doing business with the City had to search through a multitude of websites and a hodgepodge of policies, procedures, resolutions, guidelines, and ordinances to find and then attempt to navigate the procurement process. To be sure, Baltimore is not the only major city that has had to grapple in recent years with attempting to create a consolidated assembly of procurement guidance for its own staff and for the private sector looking to provide goods and services to the many City agencies and its residents. However, effective July 1, 2019, Baltimore and its contractors started using the new Procurement Regulations.

So what will you find in the 117 pages of the Procurement Regulations?  

The Procurement Regulations cover four major areas:

  1. Overall procurement (e.g., general overview, ethics, formal solicitation processes, informal solicitation processes, emergency procurements, non-competitive procurements, and multiple other core aspects of contracting);
  2. Protests (BOE Agenda and meeting process, timelines for submissions, and written protest requirements);
  3. Minority and Women-Owned Business Enterprises (“MBE/WBE”) (policy and authorities; certification eligibility, process, and procedures; Certification Appeals Board rules and processes; etc.); and
  4. Suspension and debarment (notices, investigations, hearings, decisions, and reinstatements).

As the scope of this article does not include a summary of any changes from previously existing and disparately located policies, procedures, resolutions, and guidelines that City agencies and the BOE may have incorporated into the Procurement Regulations, it is imperative that all individuals and entities engaging in contracts with the City take the time to dig into the details to assess changes in operations for themselves.   

In addition to the Procurement Regulations, the BOE also passed two related procurement resolutions on March 20, 2019, that pertain to professional services contracts and non-competitive procurements, and which were effective July 1, 2019:

  1. Resolution of the Board of Estimates of Baltimore City Relating to Non-Architectural or Engineering Professional Services. In summary, this resolution defines Professional Services, prescribes the non-competitive manner in which Professional Services may be procured, and establishes a Professional Services Review Committee.  
  2. Resolution of the Board of Estimates of Baltimore City Relating to Non-Competitive Procurements. This resolution primarily addresses the process that City agencies must follow when:
    • Recommending a procurement of such a nature that no advantage will result in seeking, or it is not practicable to obtain, competitive responses; or
    • When the need for supplies, materials, equipment, services, or public works is of an emergency nature; and for either (a) and/or (b)
    • Except for emergency procurements and Professional Services, in all non-competitive procurements the agency must provide to the BOE in writing an explanation as to why (i) no advantage would result in seeking competitive responses, (ii) it is impracticable to obtain competitive responses, or (iii) the procurement is of an emergency nature.

Today is a great day to head to the Baltimore City Comptroller’s website and download the Procurement Regulations and the two related Resolutions.  

And with that, in the words of Johnny Nash...”, “Yeah, hey, it’s gonna be a bright, bright, bright, bright, sunshiny [Baltimore City contracting kind of] day…”

This blog was written by Jeremy Scholtes at Miles & Stockbridge.

Opinions and conclusions in this post are solely those of the author unless otherwise indicated. The information contained in this blog is general in nature and is not offered and cannot be considered as legal advice for any particular situation. The author has provided the links referenced above for information purposes only and by doing so, does not adopt or incorporate the contents. Any federal tax advice provided in this communication is not intended or written by the author to be used, and cannot be used by the recipient, for the purpose of avoiding penalties which may be imposed on the recipient by the IRS. Please contact the author if you would like to receive written advice in a format which complies with IRS rules and may be relied upon to avoid penalties.