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Mission Statement

The mission of the Office of Consumer Protection (OCP) is to enforce consumer protection laws prohibiting unfair and deceptive business acts or practices to ensure a fair marketplace for consumers and businesses. Activities include complaint resolution, law enforcement, education, legislation, advocacy, and outreach to vulnerable consumers.

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Budget Overview

The total approved FY20 Operating Budget for the Office of Consumer Protection is $2,378,717, an increase of $41,577 or 1.78 percent from the FY19 Approved Budget of $2,337,140. Personnel Costs comprise 94.86 percent of the budget for 17 full-time position(s) and one part-time position(s), and a total of 16.60 FTEs. Total FTEs may include seasonal or temporary positions and may also reflect workforce charged to or from other departments or funds. Operating Expenses account for the remaining 5.14 percent of the FY20 budget.

County Priority Outcomes

While this program area supports all eight of the County Result Areas, the following are emphasized:

  • Thriving Youth and Families
  • Effective, Sustainable Government
  • A Growing Economy

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Department Performance Measures

Performance measures for this department are included below (where applicable). The FY19 estimates reflect funding based on the FY19 approved budget. The FY20 and FY21 figures are performance targets based on the FY20 approved budget and funding for comparable service levels in FY21.

MeasureActual
FY17
Actual
FY18
Estimated
FY19
Target
FY20
Target
FY21
Restitution received as a percent of restitution asked for by the consumer and validated by the assigned OCP case investigator83%94.7%85%85%85%
Average OCP customer satisfaction rating - Manner in which the customer's case was handled (1-4 scale) based on customer satisfaction survey3.13.1444
Average OCP customer satisfaction rating - Outcome of the customer's case (1-4 scale) based on customer satisfaction survey2.92.93.33.43.5
Average time in workdays to investigate and close a written complaint (All complaints)5176757065
Average time in workdays to investigate and close a written complaint (> $5,000)781031009590
Average time in workdays to investigate and close a written complaint ($1,001 - $5,000)7890888580
Average time in workdays to investigate and close a written complaint ($101 - $1,000)5260605857
Average time in workdays to investigate and close a written complaint (< $100)56102807060
Percent of consumer protection cases closed that are resolved by OCP60%54%56%58%60%
Media Coverage - Percent of news releases receiving media coverage, including print news, television and radio100%100%100%100%100%
Media Coverage - Number of times media outlets, including print news, television and radio, seek out OCP's expertise2419192022

Accomplishments

  • OCP conducted an in-depth investigation on new home builders and initiated a hearing process to take action against new home builders who were found to be in violation of County and State consumer protection laws and numerous building code violations.

  • OCP successfully filed several Application for Statement of Charges to initiate criminal action against unlicensed home improvement contractors that have victimized consumers in Montgomery County.

  • The Maryland Financial Consumer Protection Commission was established to monitor changes related to the Federal Consumer Financial Protection Bureau and in the marketplace, and to make recommendations to the Governor, Maryland General Assembly, and Maryland Congressional Delegation. Based in part upon sharing information provided by OCP, the Commission published an initial report which resulted in the introduction and passage of state legislation to protect consumers.

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Initiatives

  • OCP co-hosted several multi-agency consumer protection forums with elected officials. OCP engaged in outreach enhancements by co-sponsoring a forum at Bethesda-Chevy Chase High School with U.S. Senator Chris Van Hollen and Maryland Attorney General Brian Frosh. In addition, OCP co-sponsored a "ConsumerFest" outreach event at the Silver Spring Civic Center with Congressman Jaime Raskin and Maryland Attorney General Brian Frosh.

  • OCP launched a new program to provide expert mediation services to Montgomery County businesses for free as an option to resolve disputes without the time and expense associated with litigation in court.
  • After nearly two years of investigation and research into the home improvement industry, OCP has prepared a report and press release regarding the dangers of relying on online referral services.

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Innovations and Productivity Improvements

  • With assistance from the Department of Permitting Services (DPS), OCP conducted research regarding compliance with Montgomery County's new home building licensing and permitting laws and identified long-standing compliance issues in the industry. OCP assisted in drafting Bill 31-18, New Home Warranty and Builder Licensing - Amendments to revise Montgomery County's new home builder registration law and to better coordinate enforcement responsibility between DPS and OCP.

  • OCP continues to work with the Department of Technology Services (DTS) to onboard the licensing program into the Complaint and Licensing Management System (CALMS). To date, DTS has converted the Secondhand Personal Property Dealers License, the Motor Vehicle Repair & Towing Registration, and the Radio Television and Electrical Appliance Registration.

  • OCP and DTS continue to support the "forms automation" initiative by automating the OCP's speaker request form, volunteer application form, the Maryland Public Information Act (MPIA) request form, and the complaint form into Spanish.
  • OCP, with assistance from DTS, has installed a public computer for consumers to file complaints, and merchants to fill out applications for the licensing program.





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Collaboration and Partnerships

Business Eviction and Response Team Program (B.E.R.T.)

OCP collaborated with the Montgomery County's Sheriff's Office regarding the award-winning Business Eviction Response Team (B.E.R.T.) program to safeguard and return personal property to consumers after the eviction process concluded.

Partners

Sheriff's Office

 
"Scambuster" Videos and Alerts

OCP's consumers participated in the "Scambuster" videos and alerts that are created by County Cable Montgomery. In these videos, the consumers explain how they were faced with a scam, how they recognized the scam, and how they were able to "bust" the scam and not become a victim.

Partners

Office of Broadband Programs

 

Program Descriptions

  Consumer Protection

OCP receives and investigates complaints and initiates its own investigations of deceptive or unfair trade practices against consumers. Staff resolves disputes between consumers and merchants, identifies violations of County, State, and Federal consumer protection laws, and makes referrals to other agencies when appropriate. Complaint categories include automotive sales/repairs, new home...

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Budget Trends
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Program Contacts

Contact Marsha Carter of the Office of Consumer Protection at 240.777.3686 or Crystal B. Sallee of the Office of Management and Budget at 240.777.2778 for more information regarding this department's operating budget.

Related Links
Budget Summary
TitleActual
FY18
Budget
FY19
Estimate
FY19
Approved
FY20
%Chg
Bud/App
COUNTY GENERAL FUND
EXPENDITURES
Salaries and Wages1392532.001574368.00 1561356.00 1640200.004.2
Employee Benefits593304.00567188.00 569002.00 616236.008.7
County General Fund Personnel Costs1985836.002141556.00 2130358.00 2256436.005.4
Operating Expenses171833.00195584.00 172496.00 122281.00-37.5
County General Fund Expenditures2157669.002337140.00 2302854.00 2378717.001.8
PERSONNEL
Full-Time17.0017.00 17.00 17.000.0
Part-Time1.001.00 1.00 1.000.0
FTEs16.6016.60 16.60 16.600.0
REVENUES
Common Ownership Community Fees4738.000.00 0.00 0.000.0
Miscellaneous Revenues640.000.00 0.00 0.000.0
New Home Builder's License141680.00139500.00 139500.00 143000.002.5
Other Fines/Forfeitures50.001000.00 1000.00 1000.000.0
Other Licenses/Permits51248.0060000.00 60000.00 60000.000.0
County General Fund Revenues198356.00200500.00 200500.00 204000.001.7
FY20 Approved Changes
TitleExpendituresFTEs
COUNTY GENERAL FUND
FY19 ORIGINAL APPROPRIATION233714016.60
Other Adjustments (with no service impacts)
Increase Cost: Annualization of FY19 Personnel Costs600660.00
Increase Cost: Restore One-Time Lapse Increase and Professional Services558420.00
Increase Cost: FY20 Compensation Adjustment543950.00
Increase Cost: Retirement Adjustment18760.00
Decrease Cost: Lapse Part-time, Vacant Admininstrative Specialist I Position [Consumer Protection]-515240.00
Decrease Cost: Operating Expenses [Consumer Protection]-790780.00
FY20 APPROVED237871716.60
Charges to Other Departments
Charged DepartmentCharged FundFY19
Total$
FY19
FTES
FY20
Total$
FY20
FTES
COUNTY GENERAL FUND
Fire and Rescue ServiceFire747501.00792761.00
Future Fiscal Impacts ($000s)
TitleFY20FY21FY22FY23FY24FY25
COUNTY GENERAL FUND
EXPENDITURES
FY20 Approved2379.0000002379.0000002379.0000002379.0000002379.0000002379.000000
No inflation or compensation change is included in outyear projections.
Labor Contracts0.00000020.00000020.00000020.00000020.00000020.000000
These figures represent the estimated annualized cost of general wage adjustments, service increments, and other negotiated items.
Subtotal Expenditures2379.0000002399.0000002399.0000002399.0000002399.0000002399.000000