Conveniently located in the heart of central Maryland between Baltimore and Washington, Howard County offers the charm of a historic past mixed with the excitement of a cosmopolitan community. The County is continually ranked among the most affluent, advanced and educated communities in the United States. There is immediate access to leading educational and health care institutions, upscale retail, and outstanding recreation and entertainment. It is currently is home to 110,370 households and boasts a thriving, vibrant economy and welcoming business environment, with proximity to 50 federal agencies, universities, Fortune 500 companies, technology, defense and health care companies.

Aerial photo of Howard County nature with fall trees

How County Government Works




As the level of government that is closest to you, we provide direct services to you every day. Since there are no incorporated cities or towns in Howard County, the County government provides all local government services.

Howard County Government consists of two branches, Executive and Legislative.

A state-operated Judicial branch has Howard County offices.


The Executive Branch


The Executive Branch of the County government consists of the County Executive and all its officers, agents and employees and is the leadership branch. The County Executive is the chief executive officer of the County and the official head of the County government.

  • Includes the County Executive and Departments
  • Proposes and administers the operating and capital budgets, carries out policies established by legislation, interacts with the state and other local governments, helps residents resolve concerns and delivers services to residents

The Legislative Branch


The Legislative Branch consists of the County Council, its officers and employees and County Auditor. There are five council members who are elected every four years. The Council is the law-making branch of the County.

  • Includes the County Council and the County Auditor
  • Functions as the legislative branch of government. Five council members enact laws for the county, authorize the operating and capital budgets, refer residents to appropriate agencies and help residents solve problems. The five also sit as the Board of License commissioners (Liquor Board) and Zoning Board. The Auditor provides technical assistance to the council on financial matters, reviews the annual budget, and is in charge of the county's annual financial audit and audits of county departments

The Judicial Branch


The Judicial Branch, administered by the state, deals with the court system and interpreting/executing the law. It is a part of Maryland's judicial system, including:  

  • Circuit Court: The Circuit Court is part of the Judicial Branch of government and is a court of general jurisdiction. Circuit Court hears jury trials, juvenile, family law, serious criminal matters and complex civil matters. Circuit Court also hears appeals from the District Court of Maryland, Orphans Court and Administrative Agencies
  • District Court: The jurisdiction of the court includes all landlord-tenant cases, replevin actions, motor vehicle violations, misdemeanors and certain felonies
  • Orphans' Court: The Maryland Orphans’ Court is the state’s probate court. It also has jurisdiction over guardianships of minors. In simpler terms, the main job of the Orphans’ Court is to supervise the handling of estates of people who have died – with or without a Will – while owning property in their sole name
  • Sheriff's Office: law enforcement for the courts, providing security, serving papers, carrying out judgments in evictions and judicial sales, transporting prisoners and serving warrants
  • State's Attorney: prosecutes criminal and juvenile cases and determines whether to extradite persons in other areas who have been charged with crimes in Howard County.


With a total land area of 160,640 acres, Howard is the second smallest county in Maryland. According to the Maryland Extension Service, 90% of the county is in the Piedmont Plateau (gently rolling hills) and 10% is in the Atlantic Coastal Plain (sandy soils). altitude ranges from 20 feet to 875 feet above sea level. Precipitation averages 43.4 inches per year.

Howard County has six regional parks, 24 community parks, seven golf courses, five lakes and over 200 miles of walking, hiking and biking trails.


2010 census 287.085
2020 projection 330,558

Educational attainment
(ages 25 and older)
High school graduate or higher  95.1%
Bachelor's degree or higher  60.5%

Per capita income $51,452
Median household $106,707
Average household $140,754

Open Howard

Providing greater transparency and high-quality, freely accessible data is one of Howard County Government’s highest priorities. In 2014, the County Council passed legislation requiring County agencies to publish documents online in a searchable format and to regularly update that. The legislation also required that certain data be freely available to the public in machine-readable formats.

Publishing documents and data online in a searchable format provides the public with direct access to County information and statistics. It increases public participation throughout decision-making processes, improves transparency and efficiency in government, and demands greater collaboration among County departments.

By providing this Open Data portal, Howard County Government reaffirms its commitment to these core principles and objectives:

  • Improve government transparency
  • Improve efficiency and effectiveness
  • Increase collaboration among County departments
  • Promote a data-driven culture
  • Promote civic engagement
  • Improve the quality of life for all County residents
  • Enhance and create economic opportunities

By establishing this Open Data portal, Howard County Government is creating an open and transparent digital environment of statistical support that strives to inform, educate and benefit the entire community. Data are provided in Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International Public License.

The Howard County Open Data portal is an ongoing effort. Please come back often to explore newly published datasets

Visit Open Howard

HoCo Dash

The Howard County Data Analytics and Statistics Hub (HoCo DASH) is a performance management website that had not existed formally in Howard County. HoCo DASH was launched to provide a starting place for government’s efforts to increase performance management.

The administration worked with government and community partners to evaluate and prioritize measures that aligned with the County Executive’s top priorities. This rigorous process involved multiple meetings to come to consensus on data sets, objectives, targets and strategies.

Performance management is important to further improve the effectiveness and efficiency of County services, while providing decisionmakers and stakeholders with the vital information and recommendations needed to assist in solving problems and delivering results for residents, businesses, and communities.

Visit HoCo Dash


The GIS division provides data, tools, and technical assistance to almost every County agency. Technical assistance, programming and recommendations for standards are available to the many County departmental users who create and maintain data layers that are critical to their mission.

Contains information regarding:

  • Find a Howard County address and view detailed information about it including nearby public facilities
  • Load and overlay different county datasets on an interactive map
  • View general-purpose PDF maps generated by various county agencies for easy printing

Visit GIS Map

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