Vendor Guide

This guide is designed to assist you in understanding the basic procedures of centralized purchasing in Howard County Government. Howard County welcomes vendors to do business with the County and will provide any assistance and information that may help you to better understand our procedures.

Government's Philosophy

Howard County Government seeks to fulfill its needs for commodities and services through open competitive bidding wherever practical and possible.

The Legal Environment

Howard County Government is bound by purchasing laws which are set forth in the Howard County Charter, the Howard County Code and the Purchasing Manual. These publications are available for review at the Office of Purchasing.

Who Purchases for Howard County

The Office of Purchasing is responsible for procuring all commodities and services required by Howard County Government. This office also administers the procurement of professional services and construction for capital projects. All purchasing contact with County Government agencies must be made through the Office of Purchasing located at:

6751 Columbia Gateway Dr.
Suite 226
Columbia, MD 21046
Phone (410) 313-6370
Fax (410) 313-6388
TTY (410) 313-2323

Visiting County Offices

Vendor sales efforts to a county agency are not prohibited and may be the best way to achieve small sales (i.e., sales less than $10,000). County agencies often request product and service information to keep current with the latest technologies, materials, sources of supply, etc. Furnishing sales literature or other product information is considered normal sales effort. However, such requests do not imply that you will receive an agency's order. Depending on a number of conditions, an agency's final requirement may result in a solicitation being issued by the Office of Purchasing.

Product Demonstrations

Similar to sales visits, product demonstrations are considered normal sales efforts. Vendors often have a product or service that may be of interest to many agencies within Howard County government. In this case, the Office of Purchasing can make arrangements for "product demonstrations" where a number of similar vendor products or services may be demonstrated in one central location (similar to a "product expo"). You should contact the appropriate buyer for additional information.

How to Do Business with Howard County Government

Suppliers are encouraged to frequently view our Current Solicitations for formal bid opportunities. Suppliers may also want to register on PlanetBids Vendor Portal and eMaryland Marketplace Advantage (eMMA). Howard County does not maintain a Bidder's List.

Current Solicitations

Formal solicitations for commodities, contractual services, professional services and Capital Projects are advertised on this website. To view, please click on Current Solicitations on the left side of this page.

Ethical Code

The Howard County Office of Purchasing subscribes to the Code of Ethics of the National Institute of Governmental Purchasing, Inc. and is a charter member of the Maryland Public Purchasing Association, Inc. Further, acceptance of gifts or gratuities of any kind is prohibited by governmental purchasing ethics, Howard County Charter Sec. 901, and Howard County Code Sec. 22.204.

Socioeconomic Policy

It is the policy of Howard County to encourage participation in the Equal Business Opportunity (EBO) Program by Minority-owned Business Enterprises (MBE), Woman-owned Business Enterprises (WBE), and Disabled-owned Business Enterprises (DBE). For more information about the Equal Business Opportunity Program, please contact Mahesh Sabnani, by phone at (410) 313-3694, or email,

Local Business Initiative

Howard County is committed to creating a competitive and balanced economic environment within the County by ensuring community growth through the Local Business Initiative. For more information about the Local Business Initiative, please contact Mahesh Sabnani, by phone at (410) 313-3694, or email,

Veteran-Owned Business Enterprise Program (VOBE)

The Veteran-Owned Business Enterprise Program (VOBE) is designed to foster participation by Veteran-Owned Business Enterprises in the County’s procurement process. For more information about the Veteran-Owned Business Enterprise Program, please contact Mahesh Sabnani, by phone at (410) 313-3694, or email,

Living Wage Requirement

Howard County Code Sec. 4.122A establishes a wage rate tied to the federal poverty guidelines that is applicable to most service contracts with an expected value over $100,000 per year. Please see the current Wage Rate Requirement form for more information. Questions may be directed to Mahesh Sabnani, Living Wage Coordinator,

Procurement Procedures

Depending on the amount of the purchase, Howard County Government uses different procurement methods:

Procurement Card ($10,000 or less)

User agencies make direct purchases using procurement cards issued to individuals.

Informal Quotes ($10,001 - $29,999)

Purchasing obtains written quotations from a minimum of three bidders.

Formal Bids ($30,000 and over)

Formal solicitations, Invitations for Bid or Requests for Proposals, are posted on the Office of Purchasing web site and/or Planetbids where potential bidders are encouraged to view solicitations and addenda. Addenda to solicitations often occur within as little as 48 hours prior to the opening date. It is the potential bidder's responsibility to frequently visit the Purchasing web site and/or Planetbids to obtain addenda once a solicitation is made available.

Capital Construction Projects

Plans, specifications and addenda for capital construction projects are available to prospective contractors electronically on Planetbids. To view, please click on Current Solicitations on the left side of this page. The County does not maintain a bidders list for architectural and engineering services or capital construction projects. These solicitations are advertised on this web site.

Insurance Requirements

All services and construction contracts require insurance certificates of general liability, workers' compensation and automobile liability naming Howard County as an additional insured.

Maryland Registration

Howard County requires Contractors to be registered to do business in, and must be in good standing in, the State of Maryland. Contractors not registered must obtain registration information from the Maryland Department of Assessments and Taxation website at  or by calling 410-767-1184 or toll free 1-888-246-5941.

Howard County solicitations may also have additional requirements, any additional requirements shall be specified in the solicitation package.