The Department of Planning began in 1933 as the State Planning Commission (Chapter 39, Acts of Special Session of 1933). This was the first state planning commission in the country. It was created to coordinate public works programs of the National Planning Board and later the federal Works Progress Administration. During its first ten years, the Commission developed one of the first capital improvement programs in the nation, a mapping system covering Maryland, and medical care programs for the indigent.

When the State Planning Department formed in 1959, the State Planning 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 of Planning was renamed the Department of Planning (Chapter 209, Acts of 2000; Code State Finance & Procurement Article, secs. 5-101 through 5-816). The Department is the principal staff agency for planning matters concerned with the resources and development of the State.

In 2003, the Department organized to oversee three main functions: Communications and Intergovernmental Affairs; Planning Services; and Strategic Development. In July 2005, the Division of Historical and Cultural Programs transferred to the Department of Planning from the Department of Housing and Community Development.

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