Frequently Asked Questions

How do I register my new business with the State?

The most efficient way to register a new business is by utilizing Maryland Business Express, an inter-agency website that streamlines the process for registering a new businesses, establishing a tax account, registering a trade name, filing personal property returns and obtaining copies of business documents that have already been filed. Click here to learn more​.

How do I register my company with eMMMA?

Before beginning, we strongly recommend you read through the Quick Reference Guides provided. They offer insturctions on a broad range of topics. User Guides and a link to registration can be found at​. 

What is eMaryland Marketplace Advantage?

eMaryland Marketplace Advantage (eMMA)
eMMA is Maryland's eProcurement tool that provides vendors with easy access to State procurement information. Registered vendors can find solicitations and submit bids electronically on eMMA. A business must be registered in eMMMA in order to receive an award from the State of Maryland.

Is there any cost to register in eMMA?

​No, there is no cost to register in eMMA.

Who can participate in the SBR Program?

​The statutory requirements for participation in the SBR Program are set forth in State Finance and Procurement Article, §§14-501—14-505, Annotated Code of Maryland. Determining factors for participation in the SBR Program relate to the firm’s size, specifically the number of employees and gross revenues over a three year average of for-profit entities. Click here to learn more about small business certification.

What is the Small Business Reserve (SBR) Program?

​The Small Business Reserve (SBR) Program is a race and gender neutral program that requires participating State agencies to direct 15 percent of their spending with registered SBR vendors. In this unique marketplace, small business compete against other small businesses for opportunities to perform as prime contractors.

How do I register as an SBR vendor?

The Governor’s Office of Small, Minority & Women Business Affairs​ recommends that every eligible small business owner register as an SBR vendor with the Department of General Services. Vendor enrollment takes place online within eMaryland Marketplace. If you are already registered in eMarylandMarketplace, you can sign into your account and complete the SBR vendor registration. SBR vendor registration is good for one year. Businesses must re-register each year by their anniversary date.

What is the Minority Business Enterprise (MBE) Program?

​Maryland’s Minority Business Enterprise (MBE) Program seeks to remedy discrimination for small minority- and women-owned businesses within the State contracting arena. Maryland’s overall statewide MBE participation goal is currently 29 percent. Seventy State agencies and departments participate in the MBE Program. While certification is not required in order to do business with the State, only certified firms can meet the MBE goals set on State contracts. Certified firms are listed in an online directory.

Who can participate in the MBE Program?

​The statutory requirements for participation in the MBE Program are set forth in Section 14-301, et seq. of the State Finance and Procurement Article (2009 Repl. Vol., 2013 Supp) (“SFP”) Md. Code Ann. Determining factors for participation in the MBE program center on five key eligibility standards, specifically minority status, ownership, control, size and personal net worth of the minority owner(s) of for-profit entities. Click here to learn more.

How do I apply for certification as an MBE?

​The Office of Minority Business Enterprise​, a division of the Maryland Department of Transportation (MDOT), is the State’s official certification agency. To determine if you meet the program’s five key eligibility standards and to download the application, visit the MBE tab of the MDOT website. You are also invited to attend one of their free monthly application assistance workshops to learn more about the certification process.

How do I find out who in state government buys what I sell?

​Start by registering as an eMaryland Marketplace vendor then monitor the email notifications you receive to determine what agencies buy what you sell, at what frequency, and at what dollar amounts. Annual procurement forecasts are also available for new or recurring procurements expected to exceed $100,000. The reports can be found on GOMA’s website. They contain a description of the scope of work, the procurement category, the procurement method, the estimated advertisement date and the name and contact information of the procurement officer.

Is there any cost to being an MBE?

​No, there is no cost to apply for certification as an MBE or to maintain MBE certification.

What is a Pre-bid Meeting?

​Most, but not all procurements, include a pre-bid meeting. The date, time and location will be noted in the solicitation. The MBE Liaison also attends the meeting. The full scope of work is explained in detail and prospective bidders (both prime contractors and subcontractors) may ask questions. The pre-bid meeting provides an excellent opportunity to meet the State buyers and see what other companies are interested in the project as well. This is particularly beneficial to subcontractors as they can easily identify which prime contractors are most likely to bid on the contract.

Can I perform as an MBE prime contractor?

​Yes. Any firm, including a certified MBE firm, can perform as a prime contractor. MBE status is not relevant to the award process. However, if an MBE is awarded a prime contract, that firm may count their participation on contracts with MBE goals for up to 50% of the established MBE contract goal and 100% of any one contract subgoal.

How can I learn the rules of State procurement?

​Get familiar with the purchasing process and the rules governing procurement by reading through the Annotated Code of Maryland (State Finance & Procurement Article 14) and COMAR Title 21.

Where can I find additional help?

​Contact The Governor’s Office of Small, Minority & Women Business Affairs directly at 410-767-8232 or visit the Resources page of our website for 24/7 access to valuable information on free and/or low-cost resources available to small business owners like financing and loan programs, skills training, business development and much more.

What is the Small Business Preference Program?

The Small Business Preference Program allows certified small businesses to enjoy a price preference over non-certified small businesses competing for the same contract award on designated procurements. 

This means a certified small business may be awarded the contract even if another bidder, who is not a certified small business, bids a lower price.  If a non-certified business is low bidder, a certified small business would still be awarded the contract if their bid did not exceed the low bid by more than:
·        Up to 5% where the certified small business is not veteran-owned;
·        Up to 7% where the business is a certified veteran-owned small business; or
·        Up to 8% where the business is a certified service-disabled veteran-owned small business

The Small Business Preference Program applies to designated procurements by the Department of Transportation, the Department of General Services, and Morgan State University. The small business preference program also applies to the Department of Public Safety and Correctional Services for procurements in connection with the construction of a State correctional facility.

How does the Small Business Preferance Program work?

An agency will designate a procurement as Small Business Preference. A published solicitation for a procurement designated for a small business preference shall include a statement that the procurement has been so designated and shall indicate the price preference percentage to be applied.  A designated price preference may not exceed a base percentage preference of 5 percent of the total contract value.  A 2 percent preference may be added to the base percentage preference for veteran-owned small businesses and a 3 percent preference may be added to the base percentage preference for disabled-veteran-owned small businesses.

Both qualified small businesses and regular vendors can respond to the solicitation; however, preference will only be given to certified small businesses.
Bids will be evaluated and the procurement officer shall accept the most favorable responsive bid from a responsible small business if the bid does not exceed the most favorable responsive bid price received from a responsible bidder that is not certified as a small business by:
(a) More than 5 percent;
(b) More than 7 percent for a veteran-owned small business;
(c) More than 8 percent for a disabled-veteran-owned small business; or
(d) The predetermined percentage preference.

Is there any communly-used terminology I should know?

​Federal, State and Local governments follow similar procurement standards. They tend to follow the standards of the National Institute of Government Purchasing (NIGP) as long as the standards are not in conflict with the laws, ordinances and county charters as they may vary by jurisdiction. Read the Public Purchasing Fact Sheet on the Resource page of GOMA’s website for commonly-used terminology.

How can I find SBR procurements on eMarylandMarketplace?

The SBR designation or preference can be found in the bid specifications. To search eMarylandMarketplace by the “Description” field, log into the system then click on the magnifying glass icon in the upper right had side above your name. Select “Bids” from the document type drop down menus and type “SBR”  and/or "Small Business Reserve" in the Bid description box, then click “Find it.” The results will display open bids, bids in process, and bids that have already been awarded.

What is a disparity study?

A disparity study involves compilation of evidence required to determine whether the State has a strong basis for implementing race- and gender-conscious contracting remedies. This includes statistical evidence of disparities, if any, between the availability of minority- and women-owned business enterprises and their utilization on State contracts and subcontracts throughout the State’s economy as a whole, as well as factors necessary for business success, such as access to business capital, networks, suppliers, etc. The study also gathers quantitative and qualitative anecdotal evidence of any continuing discrimination and the present effects of past discrimination. Additionally, the study evaluates Maryland’s current programs and make recommendations for future initiatives and enhancements. 

If I am bidding on a State contract that contains an overall MBE goal with more than one subgoal, can I use a dually-certified MBE to fulfill multiple subgoals?

No. You must use a different certified MBE for each subgoal. One MBE cannot meet two different subgoals on the same contract.​

Where can prime contractors get information about liquidated damages provisions in contracts containing MBE participation goals?

Chapter 154, Law of Maryland 2012 required the Board of Public Works (BPW) to promulgate a regulation that included a requirement that all contracts containing minority business enterprise participation goals contain a liquidated damages provision that applies in the event that the contractor fails to comply in good faith with the provisions of Subtitle 11 of Title 21 or the pertinent terms of the applicable contract. See § 14-303(b) (5), State Finance and Procurement Article, Maryland Annotated Code (SFP). The Governor’s Office of Minority Affairs has prepared guidelines to help agency personnel which is also useful to the prime contractors. Click here to read the liquidated damages provisions.​

Do the MBE goals/subgoals established for a contract extend to the option contracts if the State exercised one or more available options to renew?

Yes. All of the original requirements, terms and conditions apply to option renewal contracts, including the MBE requirements.


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