Public Buildings and Grounds. The oldest function of the Department of General Services is the care of buildings owned by the State. Prior to the expansion of State government in this century, most of Maryland's few State buildings were located within State Circle in Annapolis. Other space, in scattered locations, usually was leased as needed. In 1845, the State Librarian was delegated some responsibilities for hiring persons to look after public buildings in Annapolis (Resolution no. 36, Acts of 1845). As early as 1849, a person referred to as superintendent of the public buildings was authorized to plant trees and repair gates and gutters (Resolution no. 81, Acts of 1849). Monies were appropriated in 1852 for the salary of the "Superintendent of the public buildings in the State House circle" (Chapter 199, Acts of 1852). The 1860 budget provided a salary for a Superintendent of Public Buildings and Grounds, but the position was not established by statute until 1888, although legislation in 1862 made the Governor responsible for appointing a competent person for upkeep of buildings and grounds, two watchmen, and a Keeper of the Steam House and Furnace (Chapter 341, Acts of 1860; Chapter 15, Acts of 1862; Chapter 175, Acts of 1888). The 1888 law specified the duties of the Superintendent of Public Buildings and Grounds; virtually the same text was used in the 1970 law that created the Department of General Services (Chapter 97, Acts of 1970). In 1920, a commission was appointed to look into leasing or building a State office building in Baltimore (Chapter 149, Acts of 1920), which later would require a buildings and grounds unit as well.

Central Purchasing Bureau. Also in 1920, the Central Purchasing Bureau, another component of the modern Department, was formed (Chapter 184, Acts of 1920). The Bureau became part of the Department of Budget and Procurement in 1939 (Chapter 64, Acts of 1939), then briefly moved to the Department of Budget and Fiscal Planning in 1969 before it was incorporated into the Department of General Services in 1970. Through centralized purchasing, the Bureau since 1920 has provided supplies to State agencies.

Department of Public Improvements. The General Assembly in 1947 established the Department of Public Improvements to advise the Board of Public Works and other State agencies on engineering questions and other matters pertaining to construction, renovation, maintenance, and repair of buildings, structures, and public works. This department developed the State Building Code. Its functions now belong to the Department of General Services.

Department of General Services. When the executive branch of government reorganized in 1970, the Department of General Services was created (Chapter 97, Acts of 1970). At that time, duties of the former Department of Public Improvements and State purchasing functions from the Department of Budget and Fiscal Planning transferred to the Department of General Services along with oversight of several previously independent agencies.

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