Release: Baltimore's Local Hiring Law Needs Stronger Enforcement, Audit Finds
Thursday Sep 7th, 2023
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Baltimore, Md. - Baltimore City needs to strengthen the enforcement of its 51 percent local hiring requirements, according to a Biennial Performance Audit of the Mayor’s Office of Employment Development (MOED).
Baltimore City’s Local Hiring law is applicable to city-awarded contracts over $300,000 and city-subsidized projects over $5 million. Under the law contractors must:
- Meet with MOED within two weeks after the contract award to complete an Employment Analysis;
- Post new jobs with MOED only for a period of seven days;
- Utilize MOED’s recruitment services for new hires;
- Meet the goal: 51 percent of all new hires for City-funded contracts must be Baltimore City residents; and
- Submit monthly employment reports with information on the number of current workers, new workers, and the Baltimore City residents working on the project.
The Department of Audits (DOA) found that though MOED is tracking qualitied contracts, the agency’s ability to enforce compliance is restricted.
MOED by law is able to report contractor’s compliance issues and corrective directions to bidding agencies twice a year, but it is up to those agencies to follow through on recommendations. MOED also can not directly report compliance problems to the Board of Estimates (BOE), which has the power to debar contractors and approve or renew contracts.
Audits also found MOED did not always meet with contractors within the two-week period to analyze local hiring plans and did not require or validate monthly report updates concerning local hiring goals.
DOA recommended that the Local Hiring Review Committee, which was established to review data provided by contractors and to make recommendations to MOED, review and follow up with vendors on potential problems meeting hiring goals, report deficient vendors to BOE and evaluate other methods to improve compliance with the Law.
Audits also recommended that MOED push to promptly meet with contractors within the two-week period established by law to complete Employment Analysis, and to more rigorously review and follow up on monthly local hiring submission reports.
MOED agreed with DOA’s findings, noting that the office has revised the rules for regulations for local hiring, put new processes in place and hired a compliance officer that will address DOA’s recommendations. MOED also noted it plans to closely monitor contractor compliance over the next year to see where further improvements can be made.
“Compliance with Local Hiring laws shouldn’t be discretionary,” Comptroller Bill Henry said. “Agencies need to show up as better partners with MOED by sharing their contracts timely, so that they can meet with contractors as soon as the contract is awarded. An effective local hiring program helps everyone – so it’s on everyone to make it happen.”
City Auditor Josh Pasch presented the Department of Audits (DOA)’s findings to the Board of Estimates at its September 6th meeting. The Biennial Performance Audit can be found at the Comptroller’s website.
The Department of Audits (DOA) is the City's independent auditor, providing various audits, attestation engagements, and assurance services with the overall goal of improving government accountability. DOA is part of the Office of the Comptroller.