The Department of Planning began in 1933 as the State Planning Commission (Chapter 39, Acts of Special Session of 1933). When the State Planning Department formed in 1959, the Commission became part of the new department (Chapter 543, Acts of 1959). In 1969, the Department reorganized as the Department of State Planning (Chapter 155, Acts of 1969). The Department was restructured in 1989 to become the Office of Planning (Chapter 540, Acts of 1989). Effective July 1, 2000, the Office was renamed the Department of Planning (Chapter 209, Acts of 2000). The Department is the principal staff agency for planning matters concerned with the resources and development of the State.

The Secretary of Planning is appointed by the Governor with Senate advice and consent. The Secretary serves on the Governor's Executive Council; the Chesapeake Bay Critical Area Commission; the Maryland Greenways Commission; the Maryland Heritage Areas Authority; the State Information Technology Board; the Interdepartmental Advisory Committee for Minority Affairs; the Patuxent River Commission; the Rural Legacy Board; the Scenic and Wild Rivers Review Board; the Interagency Committee on School Construction; the State Highway Access Valuation Board; the Tri-County Council for Southern Maryland; and the Metropolitan Development Policy Committee of the Metropolitan Washington Council of Governments.

Under the Department are Administration, State and Local Planning, and Planning Data Services. The Department also is aided by the Smart Codes Strategy Group; the State Economic Growth, Resource Protection, and Planning Commission; and the Patuxent River Commission.


Within the Department, Administration provides planning and urban design services for State and local government agencies, as well as information services. In addition, Administration gives planning and technical assistance to the Interagency Committee for School Construction.


Planning Data Services collects, analyzes, and publishes socio-economic, cultural, geographic, parcel and land use information for planning purposes. This office provides a database for use by State and local government agencies, and the general public. For each county and the City of Baltimore, projections of population, housing, public school enrollment, employment, and income are prepared. They are used by State and local government agencies, as well as the private sector.

Statistical data from the U.S. Bureau of the Census and other information sources are maintained by Planning Data Services. Such data relates to population, housing, employment, income, and education. A computerized system of the office also geographically references data on the physical and cultural attributes of the State.

Planning Data Services helps maintain the State's 2,800 automated property maps and their linkage via x,y reference points to the two-million parcel database of the State Department of Assessments and Taxation. This information is accessible to government agencies and the public on CD-ROM as MdProperty View for use with off-the-shelf viewing software and standard personal computers. MdProperty View quickly retrieves map and attribute information on individual or multiple properties, including ownership, acreage, type, size, value, and improvements.

Five units are overseen by Planning Data Services: Geographic Information Systems; the Property Mapping Section; Redistricting and Reapportionment; Research and the State Data Center; and Systems Support.


Geographic Information Systems formed in 1989 to provide technical assistance to State and local governments in the use of Geographic Information Systems (GIS). Assistance relates to socio-economic information, as well as natural resources and land use. This unit maintains an up-to-date electronic base map of roads and related features with street names, address ranges, and point locations of every property in the State.


The responsibility for preparing electronic property maps transferred from the State Department of Assessments and Taxation to the Office of Planning (now the Department of Planning) in October 1996. The Property Mapping Section assumed this function in 1997. The Section updates property maps and prepares them for MdProperty View. From the Section, paper copies of property maps also are available to the public.


The Research and State Data Center, organized in 1980, provides for the development of data bases to assist in planning for the overall growth and development of the State. The Center provides information from decennial censuses and is concerned with historical and projected data on population, housing, employment, personal income, business establishments, parcels, and school enrollment. The Center works to improve access to and use of statistical data from the U.S. Census Bureau, the U.S. Bureau of Economic Analysis, and other federal and State sources.


Created in 1989, Systems Support provides in-depth hardware, software, Internet, imaging and database management support. The unit typically provides specialized microcomputer, mainframe and networking skills to support projects such as the development of a World Wide Web connection to distribute census information and socio-economic projections via the Internet. File transfer support services also are provided. Systems Support provides leadership for the Data Standards Subcommittee of the Maryland State Government Geographic Information Coordinating Committee and data aggregations and analysis for a variety of projects.


State and Local Planning oversees Planning Assistance and Neighborhood Development, and Planning Coordination and Resource Management.


Planning Assistance and Neighborhood Development began in 1989 as Local Planning Assistance, became Planning Assistance and Review in 1994, and received its present name in 1997. This office is responsible for Local Planning Assistance, and four regional offices.

The Local Planning Assistance Section helps local governments improve their planning and management, develop long-range comprehensive plans, and implement programs for economic growth and resource protection. The Section provides technical services mandated by State laws, such as the Economic Growth, Resource Protection and Planning Act and the Chesapeake Bay Critical Areas Act.

To help counties and municipalities comply with the requirements of the Economic Growth, Resource Protection and Planning Act, the Section prepares technical models and guidelines. It administers technical assistance grants from the Appalachian Regional Commission for studies that ensure compliance with the Act and help communities realize economic development opportunities and meet objectives. To manage growth and solve problems, it offers education and outreach programs. Circuit rider staff assists Eastern Shore municipalities in implementing Chesapeake Bay Critical Area Protection programs. The Section consults with, guides, and advises county and municipal staff, citizen planning commissions, and elected officials through its four regional offices at Annapolis, Centreville, Cumberland, and Salisbury.


Planning Coordination and Resource Management originated as Comprehensive Planning, and received its present name in 1997. It develops and promotes policies to support sustainable communities, neighborhood conservation, land preservation, natural resources protection, and economic growth and development. Special attention is accorded to land use and growth, transportation and public infrastructure, agriculture and forest preservation, restoration and protection of the Chesapeake Bay, open space and recreation planning, and implementation of the Patuxent River Policy Plan. This office provides technical support for the Patuxent River Commission and the State Economic Growth, Resource Protection and Planning Commission.

In 1969, the State Clearinghouse for Intergovernmental Assistance organized in accordance with the federal Intergovernmental Cooperation Act of 1968. Formerly within the Department of State Planning, the Clearinghouse transferred to the Office of Planning in 1989 (Chapter 540, Acts of 1989). In 2000, it became part of the Department of Planning.

The Clearinghouse facilitates intergovernmental review and coordination of applications for financial assistance, direct federal development programs, draft environmental impact statements, nominations to the National Register of Historic Places, and certain specified applications for State assistance.

As the State's single point of contact for federal agencies, the Clearinghouse disseminates notices and announcements of proposed federal and some State actions. The Clearinghouse also transmits the views of Maryland State, regional and local public officials to federal agencies; facilitates resolution of disputes; and formulates a single recommended course of action. Additionally, recommendations regarding the disposition of State excess and federal surplus real property are made by the Clearinghouse.

In the weekly Intergovernmental Monitor, the Clearinghouse announces proposed federal and State actions. In the Catalog of State Assistance Programs, it reports on federal financial assistance awards, and maintains an inventory of State-owned real property and federal real property in Maryland. (Code State Finance and Procurement Article, sec. 5-509).

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