ANNAPOLIS, Md. — Comptroller Peter Franchot on Monday unveiled his agency’s transparent, easy-to-use online portal that displays state vendor payment information crucial to thousands of small businesses.
The database, called the Maryland Vendor Information Electronic Warehouse (MD-VIEW), gives visitors the ability to see how and when the state issues payments to vendors and contractors. The searchable, printable and exportable database also enables users to view additional payment details.
“Transparency has long been one of my top priorities and this new portal achieves that by being free, simple to navigate and accessible to anyone without creating any accounts, logins or passwords,” Comptroller Franchot said. “Maryland’s subcontracting business community asked our agency to develop a system to avoid the scenario of prime contractors delaying payments even after the state paid them. Now, subcontractors are empowered and will know their timeline for getting paid by prime contractors, which has not been publicly posted before.”
MD-VIEW will display both the invoice date and the payment date along with the payment type — usually a check or direct deposit. Users can search the portal by vendor name, state agency, payment or invoice date and other information.
“I think our small businesses are jumping up and down, screaming and shouting, saying, ‘We finally have transparency in the state of Maryland,'” said State Delegate Darryl Barnes, a Prince George’s County Democrat who is sponsoring legislation shortening the time state agencies have to make vendor payments. “This is what leadership looks like. This is what a visionary looks like. This is what our small- and minority-owned businesses, our woman-owned businesses and veteran-owned businesses have been looking for.”
MD-VIEW addresses a major concern shared by subcontractor leadership that prime contractors could delay payments to its vendors simply by claiming the state hadn’t paid them. With no oversight or public data to prove otherwise, subcontractors simply had to accept it.
“Subcontractors and their employees depend on a steady cash flow to remain viable,” said Ike Casey, executive director of the American Subcontractors Association of Metro Washington. “One of the major hindrances to positive cash flow is when a prime contractor holds payment beyond a reasonable period of time. The new Maryland payment portal will address this unfair practice and provide an important protection for their businesses.”
Small business owners hailed the new payment portal as a tool that lets them sustain a positive cash flow, make payroll and deliver projects on time and on budget.
“It takes the guesswork and mystery out of the payment process,” said Cynthia Esparza Crockett, president of Crockett Facilities, Inc., headquartered in Lanham. “It protects lower-tier subcontractors against slow-paying prime contractors. And finally, MD-VIEW allows contractors to focus on the project at hand and growing their business rather than worrying about when they will be paid.”
“With this portal, maybe now some of the bad actors in our industry will be encouraged to pay subcontractors in a more timely fashion,” said Calvin Mims, president and owner of Baltimore-based Calmi Electrical Company. “Most small- and minority-owned businesses are often undercapitalized and are one to two payments away from not being in business. When we inquire about late payments to the prime contractors, we’re often told they haven’t been paid [by the state]. In the past, we had no way of proving that and had to take their word. With this portal, now we can find out if they are indeed telling the truth.”