[HISTORY: Adopted by the Board of County Commissioners (now County Council) of Cecil County 7-24-1984; amended in its entirety 8-21-2012 by Ord. No. 2012-07. Subsequent amendments noted where applicable.]
Ethics — See Ch. 39.
Based on the objective of procuring necessary supplies, equipment and services at reasonable prices, in adequate quantities, of satisfactory quality and on schedule from reliable suppliers, the County's purchasing will be accomplished by a central purchasing function.
The County Executive is the designated procurement authority and is authorized, subject to §§ 92-1 through 92-9 of this chapter, to establish a Purchasing Manual to further define specific procedures for implementing this policy. The Purchasing Manual may be amended from time to time by resolution of the County Council.
The County Executive is authorized to delegate his/her authority as further defined in the Purchasing Manual as may be amended from time to time. The County Executive, the Director of Administration and the Purchasing Agent are the only individuals possessing legal binding purchasing authority. Each person involved in the County's procurement function has a legal and ethical responsibility to solicit, negotiate and contract for County purchases in the best interest of the County.
Failure to follow the regulations contained herein or the County's Purchasing Manual is a violation of the County's Personnel Manual and may result in disciplinary action in accordance with that document. In addition to disciplinary action, employees who violate this code may be held financially responsible for any unauthorized purchases.
As used in this chapter, the following terms shall have the meanings indicated:
- A notice published on the County's web page and in one or more newspapers, qualified to accept legal advertising, of general circulation in Cecil County.
- The tender, proposal or quotation submitted by a potential vendor in response to a solicitation for prices for goods or services required by the County.
- CAPITAL IMPROVEMENT PROJECT (CIP)
- Any public improvement undertaken by the County, including, but not limited to, the construction or reconstruction, including preliminary studies, surveys, engineering, etc., in whole or part, of any road, bridge, building, water or sewer facility, or any similar physical structure or facility necessary in carrying out the activities of County government.
- An agreement, enforceable by law, between two or more competent parties, to do or not to do something by law, for a consideration. A contract includes supplemental agreements of original contracts.
- COOPERATIVE PURCHASING
- Competitive procurement conducted by one or more public procurement agencies. Involves the ability to jointly contract using intergovernmental cooperative purchasing agreements, which shall be requested in writing through the Purchasing Office for approval by the Director of Administration or an approved representative.
- Cecil County, Maryland, including the County Council and any department, commission, board, committee, agency, government corporation or official of the Cecil County government and the County Executive.
- The development of a dangerous condition caused by a breakdown in machinery or a threatened termination of essential services; or any unforeseen circumstance causing curtailment or diminution of an essential service or which presents an imminent threat to public safety, welfare or the environment.
- EXPEDITED PROCUREMENT
- A process detailed in the Purchasing Manual to facilitate or hasten delivery of goods or services, generally according to contract terms, in response to a situation that is not an emergency, but where the County Executive or designee determines that prompt action best serves the public interest.
- OUTSIDE AGENCY
- Any agency other than departments under the County Executive, the Cecil County Sheriff, the Circuit Court of Cecil County, the Cecil County Department of Social Services, or the Cecil County Department of Health.
- PROFESSIONAL SERVICES
- The services of attorneys, physicians, architects, engineers, accountants or other individuals or organizations providing services which require specialized knowledge and skills and involve the application of specialized knowledge and intellectual skills in the performance of the services.
- PURCHASING AGENT
- The person (in addition to the Director of Administration) authorized and designated by the County Executive who has legal binding purchasing authority for the County.
- PURCHASING MANUAL
- A document describing the specific procedures to be followed when goods or services are required by the County.
- SOLE SOURCE
- A supply or service that is only available from one supplier, usually because of its technological, specialized, unique, or proprietary character.
- All property, including but not limited to equipment, parts, material, printing, insurance and leases on real and personal property, excluding the acquisition of a permanent interest in real property for public use. This definition is more inclusive than the definition used for accounting purposes.
- TECHNICAL SERVICES
- The services which require special and practical knowledge, usually of a mechanical or scientific nature, obtained through a combination of training and hands-on experience, i.e., electricians, mechanics, software specialists, etc.
- A generic term for a person, persons, company, or other legal entity who of which provides goods and services to the County.
- WRITTEN QUOTES
- Responses to a solicitation received either by physical delivery or via electronic means.
No County purchase shall be made without a sufficient budgetary appropriation of funds.
Accounting for County purchases shall be in accordance with generally accepted accounting principles and in compliance with the standards established by the Governmental Accounting Standards Board or, in the absence of a GASB standard, the Financial Accounting Standards Board.
All unexpended County appropriations, except those for capital improvement projects, lapse at the end of each fiscal year.
Any person or legal entity required to be registered with the State Department of Assessments and Taxation shall be registered and qualified to do business in the State of Maryland in compliance with the Corporations and Associations Article of the Annotated Code of Maryland, §§ 1-502 through 1-504, § 2-102, and §§ 7-202 through § 7-203. The County will only do business with entities that are properly licensed under state and County law.
As a condition of doing business with the County, the County may require insurance coverage from vendors as deemed reasonably necessary to protect the best interests of the County. The insurance shall be in the form and amount as specified by the Purchasing Manual or as required by the bid solicitation. The vendor shall provide evidence of insurability during the solicitation phase and, unless otherwise specified, shall provide a conforming certificate of insurance within five days of such request from the Purchasing Agent. The vendor shall keep such insurance throughout the term of its contract.
Vendors may not give to County employees or their immediate families any personal gifts, favors or entertainment. An employee of the County may not accept personal gifts, favors or entertainment from any person or firm with whom the County is presently doing or has previously done business or from anyone desiring to establish business relations with the County.
It is the County's policy to procure its required goods and services in a manner that is the most cost-effective, efficient, and practical. Therefore, subject to the provisions in this section, § 92-7, and the Purchasing Manual, the County shall employ a competitive process wherever practical and accept the lowest responsive/responsible bid or bids, the kind, quality and materials being equal. The County shall retain the right to reject any or all bids or to select a single item or items from any bid.
All procurement functions for goods or services purchased with funding other than County funds or in conjunction with funding from an outside source will be coordinated with the agency providing the external funds and will follow the rules and procedures of the grant or loan.
The County Executive or designee may exempt certain items from the competitive bid process. The following are excluded from the competitive requirement set forth in § 92-6. Additional exceptions may be included by resolution in Section 12 of the Purchasing Manual. County employees will adhere to the County's Purchasing Manual for specific procedures pertaining to exceptions to this code.
Lease/Rental of real property.
Purchase of patented or manufactured products offered for sale in a noncompetitive market or solely by a manufacturer's authorized dealer (sole source).
Purchases made through a state, County, municipal, cooperative purchasing, or federal purchase contract when such contract has been awarded as a result of a competitive procurement process, provided such price is deemed to be competitive and the vendor agrees to extend the same price to the County. The vendor must be qualified to do business in the State of Maryland as provided in § 92-5A.
Contracts with public utility service companies under tariffs on file with the Public Service Commission.
Definitions. In this section, the following words have the meanings indicated:
- BID PROTEST BOARD
- The Director of Administration, and two designees selected by the Director of Administration. The designees must be County department heads. The Purchasing Agent shall provide staff assistance as required by the Bid Protest Board.
- Received by the Purchasing Agent on or before the date required to be submitted and received pursuant to Subsection B(1) and B(2) following.
- INTERESTED PARTY
- An actual or prospective bidder, offerer or contractor who or which may be aggrieved by the solicitation or award of a contract, or as a result of the protest.
- A complaint relating to the solicitation or award of a procurement contract.
- An actual or prospective bidder, offerer or contractor who is aggrieved in connection with the solicitation or the award of a contract and who files the protest.
- PURCHASING AGENT
- The person (in addition to the Director of Administration) authorized and delegated by the County Executive who has legal binding purchasing authority for the County.
Filing of protest.
An interested party may protest to the Purchasing Agent against the solicitation, award or the proposed award of a bid contract, subject to this section, except a contract for professional services.
Bid Protest Board (BPB). Upon receipt of a protest, the Director of Administration will assemble the Bid Protest Board in accordance with Subsection A and forward the protest to the members for review. The Bid Protest Board may request additional information which will be used during the review process and may set time limits in which to receive such information. Failure to respond to the BPB may result in a resolution of the protest without consideration of any response to the request.
Making information on protests available. The Purchasing Agent shall consult with the County Attorney prior to the release of any information pertaining to a filed protest.
Negotiation with interested parties. The Bid Protest Board may conduct discussions and (if appropriate) negotiations with the protester or any other interested party. Settlement may be reached by agreement of all interested parties. The agreement shall be in writing and shall be reviewed by legal counsel prior to issuance. Such settlement shall be considered final.
Decision by Bid Protest Board.
If an agreement by all parties cannot be reached, the Bid Protest Board shall meet and conduct a hearing at a place and time determined by the Bid Protest Board. The Purchasing Agent, on behalf of the Bid Protest Board, shall notify all interested parties, via certified mail, return receipt, of the hearing within 30 calendar days after the protest is filed.
The protestor and other interested parties shall appear in person to present arguments unless the protestor has received written approval from the BPB to submit comments in writing.
The Bid Protest Board will render its decision as expeditiously as possible after conclusion of the hearing and forward the decision to the County Attorney for review prior to issuance.
The decision shall be issued by the Director of Administration to all interested parties who participated in the hearing (whether such participation was in person or written).
The decision of the Bid Protest Board shall be final and not subject to any further appeal or review.
Awards of contracts pending protests and appeals. While a protest is pending, the contract may be awarded or executed by the County Executive if the County finds that performance of the contract without delay is necessary to protect a substantial County interest.
Disposal of any and all County property must be approved by the department head of the using department and the Director of Administration and coordinated through the Purchasing Department to determine whether the equipment will be offered for sealed bid, auction (either through an Internet service, at a local auction house or on County premises with the services of an auctioneer) or scrapped and sent to the landfill. Assets purchased with grant funds will be disposed of in compliance with the terms of the grant. To avoid the appearance of favoritism or other impropriety, surplus assets will not be donated to outside agencies.
The County reserves the right to show preference to local bidders in the purchase of supplies, equipment and services. The amount shall not exceed 6% of the amount bid or quoted and/or $60,000, whichever is less. A "local bidder" is defined as an individual or business who or which maintains a place of business or maintains an inventory of merchandise and/or equipment in Cecil County, is licensed by Cecil County and/or the State of Maryland, if required, and is subject to Cecil County real and/or personal property taxes. No local bidder in default on payment of any County or state tax or license shall be eligible to receive preference until all taxes or licenses due are paid. Notice of preference availability shall be included in the invitation to bid and in all advertisements. Specific procedures relative to local preference are further described in Section 21 of the Purchasing Manual.