Governor, comptroller pledge Maryland spending board will deliver on minority business contract goals

Published on: January 25, 2023 2:29 PM EST|Updated on: January 26, 2023 10:03 AM EST

Governor Wes Moore, center, Treasurer Dereck Davis, left, and Comptroller Brooke Lierman, right, have the first annual meeting of the Maryland Board of Public Works at the Maryland State House on January 25, 2023.
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Maryland Gov. Wes Moore and Comptroller Brooke Lierman made promises of transparency and equity in spending tax dollars as they attended their first meeting of a key board that approves state contracts on Wednesday.

The powerful Board of Public Works — composed of Moore, Lierman and state Treasurer Dereck Davis, all Democrats — has the final say on how billions of dollars are spent each year, signing off on major state contracts. The board also approves activities on state lands and in state waters.

Repeating a familiar line, Moore said he plans on “moving forward in partnership” with the other members of the Board of Public Works.

“We will ensure this body not only continues its historic and statutory roles, but we are also going to focus this work on being intentional — being very intentional in how and what and where our state’s resources and our investments are being expended,” he said.

Moore said the board’s decisions should make the state more competitive while also being more equitable.

Moving forward, the state’s goals for contracting with minority businesses will be treated “not just as suggestions on contracts but as promises,” Moore said.

He said the state won’t be as lenient in letting contractors out of their obligations to work with minority-owned companies for a portion of their work.

Lierman said the board has a unique ability to offer accountability and transparency to state spending, “the ability for Marylanders to clearly understand and see where their dollars are going.”

Lierman said she’s committed to explaining the actions of the Board of Public Works to the public. She also wants to improve follow-up on contracts, including evaluating how many contractors met their minority business goals, kept to time requirements and hit their cost targets.

Davis said he welcomed Moore and Lierman bring to the board. “I know the talent that they bring, the work ethic that they bring, the hustle that they bring,” Davis said. “The citizens of Maryland are going to benefit from that.”

During the board’s 45-minute meeting at the State House, the members approved a largely routine set of contracts and actions, including authorizing the launch of state-financed planning for improvements in a portion of Prince George’s County from Capitol Heights to Largo Town Center known as the “Blue Line Corridor.”

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In a light moment, Moore noted that even as he and Lierman are new to the board, Davis has been in his position only about 13 months. That makes him both “a rookie and a vet,” the governor said, quoting the Canadian rapper Drake’s song “0 to 100/The Catch Up.”