Volume 19, Issue 4 - January 22, 2021
By Mary Scott Nabers, CEO of Strategic Partnerships, Inc.
For many reasons, not the least of which are the recent cybersecurity breaches that have occurred throughout the country, governmental entities are announcing plans for large technology budgets in 2021.

Additionally, public agencies simply can no longer wait to modernize outdated technology systems, software and equipment. Digitization demand, cloud storage, and data analysis also contribute to increasing technology spending in all states and at all jurisdictional levels.

Here are a few examples of upcoming opportunities that should capture the interest of technology firms.

The state of Connecticut has been moving aggressively to modernize its technology networks since 2017. The first chief information security officer was hired in 2020, and according to the state’s annual IT Strategic Plan, approximately $10 million will be spent on hardware, $14.6 million on technology consulting services, and $19 million on software by the state’s Department of Administrative Services. All other state agencies have technology spending plans as well. State officials are highly focused on updating, enhancing, and modernizing legacy software, slow-running computers, hardware, and security systems in 2021.

The Katy ISD Community Bond Advisory Committee (CBAC) is fine-tuning its final recommendation on what could be a $700 million to $800 million bond for the May 1 election.

At its January 20 meeting, the CBAC discussed land acquisition, portables as a means of planning, as well as technology and support facility needs for the district’s growing student population.

To keep up with surging student enrollment that is projected to top 100,000 by 2026, committee members are discussing plans to build a High School No. 10, Junior High School No. 14, and three new elementary campuses, Nos. 44, 45, and 46.

Design work is under way on the new campuses, but the current projected approximate square footage is 130,000 square feet for an elementary, 195,000 square feet for a junior high, and 615,000 square feet for a high school.

Separate bond propositions for an estimated $60 million in technology projects, a new district natatorium, and athletics building components could be included in the committee’s final recommendation.

It is anticipated that the committee’s final recommendation for a bond package will be presented to the board of trustees on February 8. The deadline to call a May 1 election is February 12.
Strategic Partnerships, Inc. (SPI) is expanding in the new year with the addition of two marketing professionals from the private sector.
Mark Onderko brings versatility and international experience to his role as director of marketing at SPI.

His past experience includes the education arm of LEGO, the Denmark-based international toy production company. Before that, Mark spent 10 years at an American multinational computer technology company in a variety of sales and marketing roles, most recently as senior manager of state and local government for the company’s state, local, and education (SLED) division.

Prior to that, Mark spent three years in London as a senior consultant working with the British Broadcasting Corporation and as a management consultant working with a privately funded business venture.

Mark earned a degree in business administration from California Coast University. He also participated in the executive programs at University of London and at the University of Pennsylvania Wharton School of Business.

He will be responsible for moving SPI in the direction of a more national and international focus.
Tim Gohmann adds his vast research experience to SPI’s team of analysts.

As the co-founder and chief science officer of a market research firm focused on human-to-human conversation, Tim developed a validated predictive model for marketing payback. Prior to that, he served as a principal of a consulting firm specializing in corporate culture and organizational performance.

Tim has held research, marketing and planning roles for multiple Fortune companies as well as numerous international firms.

He began the travel practice for an American data analytics and consumer intelligence company, served as a consulting editor of the Journal of Marketing Research, and taught at the universities of Texas at Austin and Cincinnati. Tim holds degrees from the universities of Notre Dame and Virginia.

Tim will lead growth and expansion initiatives for SPI, including for its very successful research division.
The Texas Health and Human Services Commission (HHSC) pushed several scheduled Medicaid Management Information System (MMIS) procurements back several months or to dates to be determined.

One solicitation for the modernization of MMIS business operations and services was set for early 2021, but now HHSC plans to issue a request for offers (RFO) in September. This project will integrate business operations and services to manage projects and ensure effective functioning of the Medicaid ecosystem when divided across multiple vendors.

A procurement for the modernization of MMIS application and development, which was scheduled for early 2021, is now to be determined. This effort would provide support of recently updated applications which will be residing in the state-owned data center, including:
  • Provider management. 
  • Electronic visit verification. 
  • Transformed Medicaid Statistical Information System (T-MSIS) for federal reporting. 
  • Medicaid/CHIP Data Analytics (including Surveillance Utilization Review and Medicaid Fraud and Abuse Detection System). 
  • Managed care encounter data warehouse. 

A RFO for an update to MMIS IV and V was scheduled to be advertised in summer 2021 to provide independent verification and validation oversight of the MMIS operations. It is now to be determined.
Stephen Mason, Mayor, City of Cedar Hill
Career highlights and education: I completed my Master of Business Administration from the Neeley School of business at Texas Christian University. Being president of a local engineering firm keeps me busy, but not as busy as having five children at home, with the two youngest girls being under 2 years old - my two princesses.

What I like best about my public service is: Being able to practice servant leadership by being part of a team working together for a cause greater than themselves. Growing up, I saw servant leadership in action by volunteering alongside my Dad. I enjoyed being part of the process of working alongside members of the business community and residents for the benefit of the entire community.

The best advice I’ve received is: BALANCE. No matter what happens in life or the challenges that will be faced, I have to strive to prioritize my faith; followed by my family and spending as much quality time with them.

My favorite way to destress is: I’m a huge sports fan. I try to follow the top teams, and I am a big NBA fan. I like to stay active. I enjoy working out, running marathons, and playing golf. You can catch me out on one of Cedar Hill’s trails cycling or running when I have the opportunity. Spending time with my family is my favorite way to destress. I love to go on vacation with my family - hoping to get back to that soon.

People might be surprised to know that I: Have lived in Cedar Hill since I was 12 and graduated from Cedar Hill High School in 2000. Wow! It’s been 20 years since I graduated. Seems like just yesterday I was walking the Longhorn halls.

One thing I wish more people knew about the city of Cedar Hill is: We want to maintain and embrace our hometown feel that gives us our distinctive character. In Cedar Hill no one’s a stranger. That’s part of stewardship. Embracing our differences and adapting our similarities is key. I love our City Council, and I love serving the community. I’m looking forward to a bright future for Cedar Hill. My goal is to see us continue growing, but to build and strengthen more partnerships during that growth.
The Mission City Council accepted a new video and renderings for the $133 million expansion of the Mission Madero Reynosa Multi-Modal International Bridge.

It will be a five-lane vehicular crossing of the Rio Grande River that connects Mission to Reynosa, Mexico with two northbound and two southbound lanes that share one emergency lane.

Several proposed routes have been identified. The preferred southern Priority 1 route will span the IBWC Levee and cross the Rio Grande River into Mexico. The Priority 2 route is upriver and includes a more northern design. Priority 3 includes a downriver central option.

The new Mission port of entry will be constructed on a 100-acre site and feature inbound and outbound border inspection facilities for rail travelers and passenger vehicles, toll collection amenities, maintenance yard, 200-acre rail switching station, and parking area.

A new rail component will begin in Monterrey, Mexico, connect to the border city of Reynosa, and link to Mission. It is planned to connect to Hebbronville where existing branches link to Laredo and Corpus Christi.

In November, the U.S. State Department removed the July 2021 expiration on the city’s presidential permit for expanding the bridge and replaced it with a “live to construction” status.

City officials said they anticipate a two-year construction timeline starting by 2025.
The North Central Texas Council of Governments (NCTCOG) has begun the Dallas-Fort Worth High-Speed Transportation Connections Study to analyze new transportation systems that will serve the demands of a growing population and regional business community.

This study will examine potential routes and high-speed transportation modes in the Dallas-Arlington-Fort Worth corridor by analyzing potential routes, alternatives, operations/service planning, and preparing preliminary engineering and environmental documentation for high-speed passenger service.

Consultants will consider and analyze conventional rail, high-speed rail, magnetic levitation, and hyperloop technologies that would connect to a separate high-speed passenger rail service being planned between Dallas and Houston, and a potential high-speed passenger service linking Fort Worth to South Texas.

NCTCOG’s goals for the 36-month study are to identify a passenger technology and potential route and receive federal environmental approval. Once the environmental approval is given, the next phases such as securing funding, detailing design, acquiring right-of-way acquisition, and constructing the transportation system may begin.
The city of Pflugerville’s water treatment plant expansion project was one of 55 invited by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) to apply for $5.1 billion in Water Infrastructure Finance and Innovation Act (WIFIA) financing.

On January 8, Pflugerville received the invitation to request funding for up to 49 percent of the water treatment plant expansion cost. City officials said they are evaluating options to best fund the plant expansion, including up to $4 million in WIFIA funds.

The project will include the planning, design, and expansion of the city’s Surface Water Treatment Plant from approximately 17 million gallons per day (MGD) to 30 MGD by 2022. Design is underway, and construction is anticipated to start in early 2022.
Regional planning for water strategies and projects earned the support of the Texas Water Development Board (TWDB) with its approval of 2021 Regional Water Plans on January 19.

The state’s 16 regional water planning groups developed the regional water plans to identify strategies and projects to meet the state’s future water needs during a repeat of drought of record conditions in the next 50 years.

During the five-year planning cycle, the regional groups evaluated population and water demand projections, water supplies, and water needs in their regions through 2070. The 2021 plans complete the fifth cycle of the regional water planning process that was created by the Texas Legislature in 1997.

The TWDB produces a new state water plan every five years and will submit the 2022 State Water Plan to the governor, lieutenant governor, and the Texas Legislature by January 2022.

In other action, the board adopted a resolution to provide $5.86 million in financial assistance to the city of Riesel for planning, acquisition, design, and construction costs associated with water system improvements.

To reduce the naturally occurring arsenic content in its drinking water supplies, Riesel proposes to drill a new, shallow well in the Brazos River Alluvium Aquifer that will produce low to no arsenic concentrations.

The city expects the design phase to be complete by March 31, 2022, and construction to start by September 1, 2022. Construction completion is scheduled for February 2024.
Contracts for two major city of Austin capital construction projects are set to be advertised in March.

The Parks and Recreation Department is scheduled to issue a procurement for a Construction Manager at Risk (CMAR) for improvements and renovations to the existing Mexic-Arte Museum.

In 2018, the Austin City Council approved an additional $15 million for the rehabilitation of the Mexic-Arte Museum from 2018 voter-approved bonds, bringing the total of available funding to $20 million. Under the arrangement between the city and Mexic-Arte, the museum is required to raise $3.5 million in addition to the bond funding. Estimated project cost is $12 million.

March also is when Austin Energy plans to release a procurement for a design-build contract to rebuild the Brackenridge Gas Insulated Switchgear (GIS) Substation.

Work involves reconstruction of the substation for complete operation at 138kV high-density developments. Limited property availability in the area will require that this substation be rebuilt as a gas-insulated substation to accommodate the new network transformers.

Estimated construction cost is $15 million.
Interest by multiple Tarrant County departments in Radio Frequency Identification (RFID) technology prompted the county to issue a request for information (RFI) for input from resellers or manufacturers to replace traditional barcoding.

In the RFI, the county requests use cases to address various scenarios for departments such as Facilities Management, Morgue and Evidence Services, and Elections Warehouse. Descriptions are sought for uses involving RFID technology in medical, asset and inventory tracking, and equipment (chain of custody) applications.

The county wishes to understand how best to assess overall needs, hardware requirements, and budget for the project.

RFI submissions are due by 2 p.m. on February 22.
The Federal Transit Administration (FTA) awarded a share of $15.8 million in funding to the city of El Paso for a project that will improve the operational efficiency of transit agencies and enhance rider mobility during the Coronavirus Disease 2019 (COVID-19) public health emergency.

Sun Metro, the city’s Mass Transit Department, will receive $225,000 from the FTA to integrate a contactless payment system that allows riders to purchase tickets and passes using mobile devices or credit cards. The accompanying mobile app will allow users to access real-time locations and schedules of buses.

The Public Transportation COVID-19 Research Demonstration Program will help invest in and promote promising, innovative solutions that address the challenges transit agencies are facing during the public health emergency.
The Texas Department of Transportation (TxDOT) extended the deadline for bids to design and construct a new administration and training facility at the Waco District headquarters, 100 South Loop Drive.

District administration and business services will be housed in the new building, which will allow for a multi-functional conference and training center. The addition of this building at the headquarters campus will enable consolidation of design staff into the current administration building.

Estimated square footage on the conference side is about 3,035. About 5,500 square feet will be devoted to business operations, plus the central lobby area.

Site amenities include two new parking lots, site lighting, sidewalks, fencing, and electric gates to complement the single-story building.

Applications are due by 1 p.m. CST on February 2. Construction is set to begin in April and conclude by July 2022.
Laura Freeland has been named the executive director of the Southern Dallas County Inland Port Transit Association (IPTMA).

Freeland brings a strong background in transportation, logistics, strategic planning, and non-profit management to the IPTMA as a vice president of cargo revenue management and director of merchandising, marketing, and solutions management for international airlines.

During her career she has implemented industry leading revenue management systems and created multi-year strategic plans to transform organizations through change management practices.

In her role as executive director, Freeland is tasked with working with the IPTMA board and member companies to provide comprehensive transportation solutions to employers and employees in the Southern Dallas County Inland Port area.
The city of Morgan’s Point Resort appointed Dalton Rice as its new city manager, effective February 1. He will take over for Interim City Manager Jim Reed.

Rice most recently served as management analyst and assistant to the city manager for the city of Mont Belvieu. Before that, he served as a firefighter, paramedic, and in the U.S. Army Special Forces.
The Kemp ISD board of trustees named Dr. James Young as the district’s new superintendent. He succeeds Dr. Lisa Gonzales who resigned in May 2020.

Young most recently served as superintendent of LaPoynor ISD. Prior to that, he was assistant superintendent for Quitman ISD.
The Roma City Council named Iv Garza as the city’s chief of police on January 19. He succeeded the late Chief Jose Garcia.

Garza most recently was a sergeant with the Roma Police Department where he has served for 14 years as a patrol officer, investigator, and K-9 unit handler. He also is a firefighter with the city.
Gov. Greg Abbott announced these appointments and reappointments from January 15-21:

Advisory Council on Emergency Medical Services 
James DeLoach - Littlefield
Della Johnson - Mesquite
Office of the Texas Governor and Texas Department of Public Safety Texas Homeland Security Strategic Plan 2021-2025

Federal Emergency Management Agency – Flood Changes Map Viewer
Dozens of public-sector jobs are available. Click here to view all job openings and guidelines for job submissions to SPI. New jobs added this week:

  • Texas Comptroller of Public Accounts - Assistant Records Manager (Records Analyst III)

  • Texas Department of State Health Services - Physician II

  • Texas Department of Transportation - Transportation Maintenance Crew Chief I

  • Texas Department of Transportation - General Transportation Tech I
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