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Policy 4050 – Procurement of Goods and/or Services

The purpose of this policy is to provide direction, set guidelines, and establish appropriate business processes regarding procurement of goods and/or services for the HCPSS.

Policy Document

I. Policy Value Statement

The Board of Education of Howard County expects that all funds provided to the Board for use by the Howard County Public School System (HCPSS) for all goods and/or services will be expended and managed in the most ethical, effective, and efficient manner possible and that procurement activities will be carried out in compliance with the Public School Laws of Maryland including, the Annotated Code of Maryland, Educational Article, §5-112.

Procurement serves the educational program by providing necessary supplies, equipment and related services with student welfare as the foremost consideration. HCPSS must procure goods and services competitively without prejudice or favoritism, and seek the maximum educational value for every dollar expended.

The Board is committed to promoting equality of economic opportunity for small, local, minority businesses, women’s business enterprises, and eliminating known barriers to their participation when contracting with the HCPSS.

The Board acknowledges the necessity to pursue best practices, both tactically as well as strategically and embraces the values and guiding principles of procurement, which include accountability, ethics, impartiality, professionalism, services, and transparency.

II. Purpose

The purpose of this policy is to provide direction, set guidelines, and establish appropriate business processes regarding procurement of goods and/or services for the HCPSS.

III. Standards

  1. Provisions of this policy will apply to all HCPSS funds, including but not limited to, school activity funds, grants, and monetary donations except as explicitly exempted in the policy.

  2. Procurement of goods and/or services will:

    1. Fall within the framework of budgetary limitations.

    2. Be consistent with the educational goals and programs of the HCPSS.

    3. Be made only after the Board has budgeted funds available.

  3. Procurement

    1. The Board requires competitive procurements for all goods and/or services except when the goods and/or services are Sole Source, Single Source, or Emergency Procurements.

    2. Procurement will operate ethically, with impartiality, transparency, and professionalism.

    3. Procurement Procedure Thresholds:

      1. Procurement of goods and/or services with a value over $50,000 require a formal solicitation as outlined in the Implementation Procedures, Section III.C and require Board, Superintendent approval.

      2. For contracts and procurements below $50,000:

        1. Approval of all contracts for Board appropriated funds will be made by the Purchasing Office.

        2. Contracts with a value less than $10,000 require at least one (1) written quotation.

        3. Contracts with a value between $10,000 and $50,000 require at least three (3) written proposals or quotations. The Purchasing Office will award an HCPSS purchase order to the vendor who has submitted pricing that is deemed lowest, reasonable and most responsive.

        4. A quarterly report of contracts between $25,000 and $50,000, including the item/service contracted, amount and the organization rewarded the contract will be provided to the Board.

        5. Approval of all contracts using school activity funds will be made by the school principal after review by the Purchasing Office.

  4. Other regulatory considerations for procurement and contracts:

    1. Goods and commonalities acquired through a purchasing cooperative will follow public bidding procedures described in Annotated Code of Maryland, State Finance and Procurement Articles §11-203, §14-301 and §13-109.

    2. Architectural and construction management services selection are addressed in Policy 6030 Procurement of Architectural and Construction Management Services.

    3. Contracts established through intergovernmental purchases are exempt from this policy.

    4. Procurements related to legal services are exempt from this policy.

    5. Contracts with software providers, online services, and mobile applications will comply with federal, state, and local student data privacy protections, including those provisions identified in the Annotated Code of Maryland, Education Article, §4-131 and HCPSS policies.

    6. For all purchase contracts involving the expenditure of federal funds, federal grants and/or federal awards, the HCPSS will comply with the Uniform Guidance procurement rules issued by the United States Office of Management and Budget.

  5. The Board reserves the right to reject any and all responses, any or all items, or to waive defects of specifications or any specific(s) whenever such rejection is in the best interest of the school system.

  6. Contracts must comply with the Annotated Code of Maryland, Education Article, §5-112 and this policy to be considered valid.

  7. The Purchasing Office will be consulted throughout the design process of all programs and/or activities that require the use of third parties.

  8. The Purchasing Office will:

    1. Review all contracts and Memorandum of Understanding (MOUs) prior to approval by General Counsel.

    2. Implement and maintain an effective contract management system.

    3. Develop a formal training program for all HCPSS employees who procure goods and services.

    4. Establish small, local, minority and women owned business participation goals, to be determined by the Purchasing Office, relative to the availability and past utilization of these groups in contracting and purchasing, and develop appropriate measures to remediate ongoing market discrimination against these groups that has impacted their ability to participate in contracts.

    5. Develop appropriate Key Performance Indicators (KPI’s) to provide key data insights to enable effective evaluation of the performance and efficiency of the procurement function.

    6. Maintain an open and public procurement contracting process except during a procurement process where an award has not been made.

  9. School-sponsored events such as proms and graduations as determined by the Purchasing Office, may be exempt from this policy.

  10. All employees engaged in procurement activities for HCPSS programs and/or activities are responsible for understanding the provisions of this policy and the Procurement Manual.

  11. The Board will be notified of contracts greater than $50,000 prior to the contracts being recommended to be awarded.

  12. The Board authorizes the use of purchasing cards consistent with the purposes and responsibilities in the Procurement Manual to expedite small dollar purchases for materials, supplies, and other items needed for daily operations or for authorized travel.

IV. Responsibilities

  1. The Superintendent/designee will establish the acceptable procurement method and process for establishing contracts at the threshold levels set in this policy and implementation procedures.

  2. The Superintendent/designee will establish manuals or other documentation to inform all HCPSS employees and community members of the appropriate expenditure of funds.

  3. All employees will follow this policy and implementation procedures and comply with Policy 2070 Ethics and HCPSS Ethics Regulations.

  4. The authority to obligate Board funds to an agency outside the school system is vested solely in the Superintendent/designee who will use the Director of Procurement and Materials Management as the purchasing agent for the HCPSS.

  5. Responsibility for the performance of the contract will reside with the Program Manager. The Director of Procurement and Materials Management/designee will act as a liaison with the contracted party in the event that there are performance issues with the contract.

  6. Responsibility for the execution of contracts will reside with the Director of Procurement and Materials Management/designee.

  7. The Purchasing Office annually, will report to the Board a review of the procurement system to include, but not limited to:

    1. Numbers of contracts awarded above and below the threshold for Board Authorization.

    2. Small, local, minority, and woman owned business participation levels.

    3. Numbers of intergovernmental contracts awarded.

    4. Number of contracts awarded through purchasing cooperatives.

    5. Any changes in the contract management system in its entirety.

    6. Numbers of individuals trained on procurement procedures.

    7. Other metrics as appropriate.

V. Delegation of Authority

The Superintendent/designee is authorized to develop appropriate procedures to implement this policy.

VI. Definitions

Within the context of this policy, the following definitions apply:

  1. Contract – A legally binding agreement, enforceable by law, for money or other consideration for the procurement or disposal of goods, services, or construction.

  2. Donations – Equipment, materials, money, or property given to a school or to the school system, without compensation or other consideration, for use in or in conjunction with educational or extracurricular programs or activities with no expectation of return and become the property of the Board.

  3. Emergency Procurement – The awarding of a contract due to a sudden of a serious, urgent, and threatening nature that demands immediate action to avoid termination of essential services or a danger to life, health, safety, or property condition.

  4. Formal Solicitation – A formal invitation to receive quotes, in the form of a request for proposal or an invitation to bid.

  5. Goods – Tangible commodities provided to the Board in exchange for payment.

  6. Intergovernmental Purchase – The acquisition of goods or services from another government agency such as the county, state or other public entities, allowing the school system and other jurisdictions to standardize and share specifications, technical services, and procurement information provided the goods or services meet the desired specifications and prices.

  7. Key Performance Indicator (KPI) – A critical (key) indicator of progress toward an intended result that provides a focus for strategic and operational improvement, creates an analytical basis for decision making, and helps focus on attention on what matters most.

  8. Local Business – A Howard County business with (a) a substantial presence in the County’s geographical boundaries; (b) fully operational for twelve consecutive months and; (c) has a valid business tax certificate.

  9. Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) – For the purposes of this policy this is an agreement between parties often used to clarify terms and may be used as a basis of a future formal contract or deed.

  10. Minority Business – A business that is at least fifty-one percent (51%) owned, operated, and controlled by minority group members, who are citizens of the United States. Controlled means that the minority owner(s) must exercise actual day-to-day management of the business. Minority groups covered by this procedure include African-Americans, Hispanic-Americans, Asian-Americans, and Native American Indians.

  11. Small, Local, Minority, and Women Owned Business Participation – The inclusion of these business enterprises as either prime or subcontractors in Board contracts.

  12. Procurement – The process of obtaining goods and/or services.

  13. Procurement Methods – Method by which goods, services, or materials may be acquired, and which are determined by Board policy threshold levels.

  14. Purchasing Card – A type of credit/commercial card issued to an individual HCPSS employee, department, or school for making authorized purchases within certain limits.

  15. Purchasing Cooperative – Participation in or use of a contract for goods and/or services that are awarded by other public agencies or by intergovernmental purchasing organizations.

  16. Quotation – A written offer by a supplier that includes the supplier’s name, contact information, brief description of work, associated price and date for delivery or completion of work.

  17. Response – A written or verbal quote, bid, proposal, or offer.

  18. School Activity Funds – All cash funds held in the name of a school including fundraising proceeds, cash donations, funds transferred from the Board, and funds provided to a school not allocated through the Board budget.

  19. Services – The rendering of time, effort, or work rather than the furnishing of a specific physical product. Includes, but is not limited to, the professional, personal, and/or contractual services provided by architects, engineers, attorneys, accountants, physicians, consultants, appraisers, land surveys, and where services are associated with the provision of expertise or labor, or both.

  20. Single Source – A contract for the procurement of goods and/or services entered in which two or more vendors can supply the commodity, technology and/or perform the services required by an agency, but one vendor is chosen over the others because of past and demonstrated experience and/or uniqueness of the service or goods provided.

  21. Small Business – A business that (a) meets the size standard set by the Howard County for small businesses; (b) is an independent business headquartered in Howard County; (c) has a substantial presence within Howard County’s geographic boundaries; (d) is a full operation conducting business for at least 12 consecutive months, and; (e) holds a valid business tax certificate.

  22. Sole Source – A contract for the procurement of goods and/or services entered in which only one supplier can provide the commodity, technology and/or perform the services or provide the goods required.

  23. Solicitation – A requirements document that outlines the procurement process and selection criteria to obtain goods and/or services to be delivered or completed that is formally advertised to the general public.

  24. Solicitation Threshold – The dollar amount if equaled or exceeded, requires a formal solicitation.

  25. Specifications – A clear, complete, and accurate description of the goods and/or services required in a procurement activity.

  26. Supplier – A person or entity providing goods and/or services.

    AA. Women Business – A business that is a least fifty-one percent (51%) owned, operated, and controlled by a woman or women, who are citizens of the United States. Controlled means that the woman owner(s) must exercise actual day-to-day management of the business.

VII. References

  • Md. Ann. Code, Education Article, §4-131

  • Md. Ann. Code, Education Article, §5-112

  • Md. Ann. Code, Finance and Procurement Article, §11-203

  • Md. Ann. Code, Finance and Procurement Article, §14-301

  • Md. Ann. Code, State Finance and Procurement, §13-109

C. Relevant Data Sources

D. Other

  • HCPSS Ethics Regulations

  • Procurement Manual

III. History

ADOPTED: December 3, 1968

REVIEWED: December 21, 2015



  • June 28, 1990

  • December 13, 2001

  • February 27, 2003

  • December 14, 2006

  • January 13, 2011

  • June 7, 2018

  • June 9, 2022

EFFECTIVE: July 1, 2022

Policy History Key

  • Adopted-Original date the Board took action to approve a policy
  • Reviewed-The date the status of a policy was assessed by the Superintendent’s Standing Policy Group
  • Modified-The date the Board took action to alter a policy that based on the recommendation of the Superintendent/designee did not require a comprehensive examination
  • Revised-The date the Board took action on a that policy based on the recommendation of the Superintendent/designee needed a comprehensive examination
  • Effective-The date a policy is implemented throughout the HCPSS, typically July 1 following Board action.