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Hogan creates panel to study Maryland procurement

2016-02-11

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The Baltimore Sun

Gov. Larry Hogan issued an executive order Wednesday establishing a commission to reform what he called the state's "increasingly unworkable" policies for purchasing goods and services.

Announcing the move at a meeting of the state Board of Public Works, Hogan put Lt. Gov. Boyd Rutherford in charge of the bipartisan, 19-member panel that will study and recommend changes to the state's procurement system.

The commission will include members of Hogan's cabinet, lawmakers, private citizens and representatives of Comptroller Peter Franchot and Nancy K. Kopp. Rutherford said the panel will report recommendations to the governor by Dec. 1, in time for changes that require legislative approval to be considered in the 2017 session.

Rutherford told the board he was especially interested in reforming the state's purchasing process as a result of his experience as secretary of general services during the Ehrlich administration.

"The Commission to Modernize State Procurement will be a problem-solving commission and not a study group," Rutherford said.

Hogan's move won praise from Kopp and Franchot, who vote on state contracts as members of the Board of Public Works.

"We have a broken system," said Franchot. He described the current system as an "incumbent vendor protection program" that stifles competition and drives up costs.

Not everyone was impressed with the announcement.

Del. Kirill Reznik, a Montgomery County Democrat, said the General Assembly's Department of Legislative Services completed a comprehensive study of the procurement process last year as part of a process initiated by former Gov. Martin O'Malley.

"This would be very duplicative," Reznik said.

Reznik, who has legislation pending to implement some of the department's recommendations, said he and other lawmakers spent much of past year seeking a meeting with Hogan administration officials to talk about procurement, only to be ignored.

"This seems to be yet another attempt by the Hogan administration to say that if anything was researched or recommended under the Democratic governor, its is immediately suspect and needs to be done all over again," Reznik said.

Doug Mayer, a Hogan spokesman, said the administration did not ignore the legislature but met with Del. Peter Hammen, a Baltimore Democrat who chairs the committee that oversees procurement law.

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