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Procurement modernization

The role of procurement in government cannot be overstated and is critical to almost all State government functions. The impact of State procurement is not restricted to the public sector alone and the modernization of Maryland procurement has benefitted our state importantly. The most visible way some of the initial modernization results were visible were during the COVID-19 pandemic. The pandemic put an enormous strain on all businesses but at the onset, Maryland procurement switched to crisis-management mode and was successful in providing for the State’s ability to deliver the emergency goods and services needed during the COVID-19 pandemic response all while continuing to maintain all ongoing state operations.

The foundation of this modernization began on February 10, 2016, when Governor Larry Hogan issued Executive Order 01.01.2016.05, which created the Commission to Modernize Procurement. The Commission was composed of 19 members with expertise in Maryland state procurement. Lieutenant Governor Boyd K. Rutherford served as the Chair. The Commission was charged with undertaking a comprehensive review of Maryland’s procurement statutes, regulations, policies, and procedures. The Report of the Commission to Modernize State Procurement published on December 1, 2016 contained 57 recommendations, which spanned multiple issue areas consistent with the duties outlined in the executive order.

Now, what has happened since then? With the implementation of Maryland House Bill 1021, Chapter 590 of the Acts of the General Assembly of 2017, the newly created Office of State Procurement, led by the newly created position of a state Chief Procurement Officer, implemented a comprehensive plan that can be summarized into three significant areas.

  1. Technology,
  2. Process improvement, and
  3. People.

But how does procurement modernization support Maryland businesses and our citizens? How are these things being done to ensure that the Maryland taxpayer’s money is well spent? Below are highlights of successful outcomes in each of the three areas since late 2018 through pandemic lockdown, and as we move to recovery.

Technology

Launch on July 22, 2019, the eMaryland Marketplace Advantage (eMMA) is a procure-to-pay system that has begun the transition from a tactical and fragmented system to a cohesive, comprehensive, and integrated enterprise system that has improved multijurisdictional efficiency. From initial requisitions through procurement to receiving and invoice processing, eMMA is providing a system to minimize bureaucracy, errors, risk, and inefficiencies.

eMMA’s public website, found at https://emma.maryland.gov provides greatly improved transparency for businesses to see all State solicitations and all state contracts in real time. Small businesses, minority businesses, and veteran-owned business as well are able to self-identify easily in the eMMA system when submitting their responses with easy, anytime access to all data and information for their bids or proposals.

With upcoming new releases, eMMA will be enhanced to support the complete procure to pay process with a single place for all business to government transactions such as contract invoice submissions and payment processing and tracking, online catalogs and many other features!

Process Improvement

The Office of State Procurement has begun work to simplify and standardize policies, templates, and processes. This will prove especially important to small businesses to improve their access to business opportunities across the state. Working with state agencies and organizations, OSP has mapped the high-level core business processes specific to the statewide procurement activity. This includes the necessary workflows of sourcing processes and decision making at the agency level, to the Office of State Procurement, as well as the Board of Public Works. The enterprise business map represents the necessary oversight required by a state agency procurement office and any state control agency to view all procurement activity and manage delegated procurement authority.

People

In October of 2019, the Maryland Procurement Academy (MDPA) was established in the Office of State Procurement to be a model program to build the knowledge, skills, and competencies needed by all levels and roles in the State’s procurement workforce with the focus on Maryland-specific procurement, taught by Maryland certified instructors and with certifications and other credentials issued after comprehensive assessments and/or testing. Additionally, the MDPA is responsible for all eMMA training to state users and to all vendors to the State using eMMA.

In the year since it’s established, training programs have been designed and delivered to hundreds of state procurement professionals as well as thousands of state vendors. Training programs on eMMA as well as training and certification programs on Maryland procurement have been delivered through webinars and video-based training, owning to launching the training programs during the pandemic. (https://gotostate.com/channel/emmavendortraining)

Additional training and certification programs are being created and will be expanded to include more vendors, especially small, minority and veteran-owned businesses, as well as expanded to additional procurement professionals across the state including local government jurisdictions.

Summary

While the primary objective of Maryland procurement is to deliver the goods and services necessary to accomplish our state’s missions in a timely, economic, and efficient manner, Maryland’s procurement modernization has the ability to impact innovation both inside and outside the public sector. This includes promoting innovation, sustainability, social inclusiveness, and supporting small, minority and veteran-owned businesses.

Once fully implemented, Maryland procurement modernization will benefit the state for years to come by “increasing competition for State contracts, lowering the State’s and business’ transaction costs, and improving the professional development of our State procurement workforce”. (Commission to Modernize State Procurement, 2016).

Minority Business/Expanding Opportunities 2020 cover

Expanding Opportunities

This article is featured in the 2021 edition of The Daily Record’s Expanding Opportunities Resource Guide for Small, Minority and Women Businesses. Published in conjunction with the Governor’s Office of Small, Minority & Women Business Affairs, Expanding Opportunities explores diversity, entrepreneurship and innovation in Maryland’s small business community. Read more from Expanding Opportunities on this website or read the digital edition.

To purchase a reprint of this article, contact [email protected].