By Mary Scott Nabers, CEO of Strategic Partnerships, Inc.
Dozens of media reports flood our inboxes, and there are newspaper articles daily about the COVID relief bill that Congress is expected to pass very soon. How large will it be? What will the funding cover? When and how will the funding programs work? These are all good questions!
But, once we get the answers, the next hot topic to surface will be related to an infrastructure bill that Congress is expected to pass. What will it include? What type of projects will be covered? How will regions receive funding? How can contractors get involved?
Although we’ve been promised an infrastructure bill for the last several years, indications are strong that we will actually see one passed in 2021. That’s because U.S. infrastructure needs are immense. So large, in fact, that the country’s infrastructure must be addressed.
Many infrastructure needs are critical … critical to America’s economic vitality and our global leadership role and critical also to preserve public assets, confront the ravages of climate change, address water resources, and ensure the safety of American citizens. Infrastructure reform is expected to cover all basic systems and services that are needed to support a country’s economy and its citizens.
After hosting a series of public meetings last month in the Rio Grande Valley, the Texas Department of Transportation (TxDOT) is drafting an update to the Texas-Mexico Border Transportation Master Plan (BTMP).
TxDOT is collaborating with the Border Trade Advisory Committee and Mexican agencies and stakeholders to develop and finalize the plan in March.
The BTMP is a comprehensive, multimodal, binational plan that will identify transportation issues, needs, challenges, and opportunities and strategies of moving people and goods across the border, the border regions, and beyond.
It will identify the cross-border issues, challenges, and opportunities and strategies of moving people and goods and will include analysis of existing transportation systems: roadway, transit, pedestrian, pipeline, airport, maritime, and rail. The plan will analyze current and future transportation and will include a recommendation of transportation investment strategies that support binational, state, regional, and local economic competitiveness and improve the impacts of cross-border trade and transportation.
Officials in the border cities of Brownsville, Mission, and Pharr are awaiting the plan’s adoption in order to seek federal funding for projects such as the East Loop, Madero International Bridge, and the International Bridge Trade Corridor between the international bridges at Pharr and Donna.
The East Loop Project consists of the construction of a four- to six-lane roadway from SH 4 to I-69E (U.S. 77/83) and the Veterans International Bridge at Los Tomates. The SH 32 (East Loop Project) consists of two sections along with the Port Connector Road. SH 32 East is approximately 5.6 miles long and includes the construction of a new four-lane divided highway from FM 3068 to SH 4. The total construction cost of SH 32 East is approximately $45 million.
Russ Lockwood has completed a Six Sigma Lean Management program and has a diversified background of career experience that includes management, client delivery, technology, telecom, and procurement consulting. He has a proven track record of problem-solving skills and a history of success in building strong relationships with external stakeholders.
Prior to joining SPI, Russ held a managing consultant position that involved oversight of programs in multiple states. While supporting clients, he also managed over $100 million of spending and provided more than $1 million in program savings and cost avoidance. Russ has worked with proposals, developed comprehensive statements of work, and provided guidance related to various aspects of procurement.
Russ holds a Bachelor of Business Administration degree with an emphasis in marketing from Texas State University, and he plans to pursue a graduate degree.
The Texas Department of Information Resources (DIR) plans to start developing artificial intelligence and laboratory technology procurements in April in advance of solicitations in October.
DIR anticipates it will need to gather additional information before issuing a procurement for laboratory technology products and related services; however, these categories are of interest:
- Laboratory automation next-generation DNA sequencing.
- Point-of-care testing.
- Information technology related to diagnostics products laboratory Internet of Things.
In addition, DIR seeks to add a new category of artificial intelligence products and services to its cooperative contracts offerings.
As technology evolves, numerous opportunities become available to improve manual processes, data analytics, and overall efficiency. The agency has identified these categories of interest:
- Artificial intelligence.
- Machine learning.
- Robotic process automation.
- Natural language processing.
- Computer vision digital assistants.
DIR officials seek to provide offerings to all eligible customers to help improve their internal operations.
Randy Clarke, President and CEO, Capital Metro (CapMetro)
Career highlights and education: I earned a bachelor’s degree in political science and history from Acadia University and a master’s degree in public policy and management from the University of Southern Maine. I’ve been fortunate to visit transit agencies all over the world, including Europe, Asia and North America. I am lucky enough to have had these global experiences as a part of the jobs that I’ve had.
What I like best about my public service is: What I like best about Capital Metro’s service is our ability to positively impact people on a daily basis. We connect people to opportunities, jobs, healthcare and education. We are proactively addressing climate change and inequity. We are doing deeply meaningful work and have direct connection with the community every day.
The best advice I’ve received is: Through my job at Capital Metro, some of the best advice I’ve received is to stay true to who I am and to be authentic no matter who I’m talking to — the staff or the public.
My favorite way to destress is: Running or cycling
People might be surprised to know that I: Am a dual Canadian/U.S. citizen and a vegetarian living in barbecue country (Texas).
One thing I wish more people knew about Capital Metro is: How hard the CapMetro team works to move our community every day. What we do at CapMetro is so valuable and our staff works hard, day in and day out. We are a 24/7, 365-day-a-year operation with almost 2,000 people, and all of us work hard each day to serve the community and connect them to where they need to go.
The city of Pflugerville secured $165.67 million in multi-year financing from the Texas Water Development Board (TWDB) to construct a second wastewater treatment plant, interceptor lines for both of its treatment plants, and modifications to nearby lift stations.
In 2016, the city reached 75 percent of the 5.3 million-gallons-per-day (MGD) treatment capacity at its Central Wastewater Treatment Plant (CWWTP) and is in violation of its interim permit. A draft permit to allow for additional capacity has been issued with incremental increases to a final permitted amount of 10 MGD. The second interim permit for 7.25 MGD is anticipated to be approved by January 2022.
The city is 50 percent complete with construction of the initial expansion of the CWWTP to 7.25 MGD.
Pflugerville anticipates beginning the design phase for the new 8 MGD wastewater treatment plant in August 2022, starting construction in March 2023, and completing work in November 2024.
At their February 25 meeting, TWDB members also awarded financing of:
- $59.3 million to the city of Bay City for water and wastewater system projects.
- $13.1 million to the city of Brownsville for flood improvement projects.
- $5.98 million to Orange County Water Control and Improvement District No. 2 for water and wastewater system projects.
- $5.03 million to the city of Junction (Kimble County) for flood mitigation projects.
- $4.57 million to Nueces County Drainage and Conservation District No. 2 for drainage improvement projects.
- $2.34 million to Brookeland Fresh Water Supply District for a wastewater system project.
- $1.5 million to the city of Jourdanton for a drainage improvement project.
In total, the board awarded more than $257 million in financial assistance to these cities and water districts.
Due to Winter Storm Uri, Tarrant County extended the deadline submissions to 2 p.m. March 18 for its request for information (RFI) for sheriff computer aided dispatch (CAD), law records management system, and mobile technology.
The county is collecting vendor input to prepare for a potential solicitation to replace the existing system with a new integrated system that provides equivalent functionality.
Tarrant County Sheriff’s Office has an integrated CAD/Records Management System (RMS)/Mobile application suite with multi-agency capability. It provides dispatch and law records services to nine separate agencies.
The existing CAD system includes Automatic Vehicle Location (AVL) capability, and an E-911 data interface to receive and populate caller data from the E-911 data feed for that call.
Ten mobility projects will be voted on by Georgetown voters in a $90 million May 1 mobility bond election.
The value of the 10 projects is $120 million. Unspent bond funds from 2008 and 2015 will make up the final $30 million to complete the projects.
One of the major projects that would receive funding is the widening of 2.91 miles of the Southeast Inner Loop to a four-lane, divided, minor arterial roadway from SH 29 to Sam Houston Avenue and a five-lane, undivided major arterial roadway from Sam Houston Avenue to FM 1460. The anticipated project cost is $32 million.
Other projects are:
- Shell Road from Williams Drive to north of Sycamore Drive - $12.5 million.
- Williams Drive from DB Wood to Interstate 35 - $10.2 million.
- D. B. Wood Road - $19 million.
- Leander Road - $7.7 million.
- Austin Avenue bridges rehabilitation and addition of a new pedestrian and bike bridge - $11.5 million.
- Rockride Lane - $5.8 million.
- Sam Houston Avenue - $4 million.
- Westinghouse Road - $8.2 million.
In addition to road projects, city sidewalks, bike lanes, intersections, and transportation technology upgrades will receive $10.45 million of the bond funds.
The Texas Health and Human Services Commission (HHSC) updated its FY20-21 procurement forecast on February 26 that includes timelines for solicitations in construction and maintenance, health services, and information technology.
HHSC anticipates releasing a request for offers (RFO) in March to solicit consulting and software development services from LabWare, a vendor, for the software upgrade from version 6 to version 7, an updated clinical health template, and other services to support the moving of hardware from.
Another RFO set for March is for an application service provider to perform maintenance and support of the National Electronic Disease Surveillance System Base System (NBS).
In April, HHSC plans to issue a RFO for a new call center for the Vital Statistics Section (VSS).
The San Antonio Water System (SAWS) will host a pre-submittal conference at 10 a.m. March 16 for the Northeast Operations Center design-build project.
SAWS envisions the new Operations Center serving not only as office space for field operations staff, but also as a dispatch center for various types of work crews.
The new center will be on a green field site in Northeast Bexar County. The existing center will be demolished and the site remediated.
A request for proposals (RFP) is scheduled for release on April 26 with work commencing in September.
The University of Texas (UT) System board of regents recently approved the creation of the UT Southwestern Medical Center School of Public Health (UTSWMC) to serve the Dallas area’s growing population and address a workforce shortage in public health management.
UTSWMC will create a research-intensive school dedicated to scientific advances that address population health challenges and provide evidence-based input for policymakers navigating chronic and emerging public health crises.
The new school will:
- Build upon the medical center’s research and programs in data science, health systems research, epidemiology, and implementation science.
- Capitalize on general academic institution partnerships.
- Leverage extensive hospitals, health system, and patient care.
- Advance bioinformatics, computational biology, and population and data sciences programs.
- Disseminate infectious disease expertise.
- Inform public policy.
Initial planning will organize and recruit faculty, designate school programs, and prepare to admit students in fall 2023. The second phase of planning will expand and establish new research and pursue school accreditation.
Gov. Greg Abbott named Arthur D’Andrea as chair of the Public Utility Commission of Texas (PUC) on March 3. D’Andrea succeeds DeAnn Walker who resigned.
D’Andrea has served as a commissioner for PUC since November 2017. Previously, he was an assistant general counsel for the governor’s office and served as an assistant solicitor general for the Texas attorney general’s office.
The Texas A&M University System board of regents named Dr. Katherine Banks as the sole finalist to be president of Texas A&M University. Under state law, regents name a finalist for at least 21 days before making the appointment at a subsequent meeting.
If approved, Banks would take over for Interim President John Junkins who filled the position after Michael Young retired on December 31, 2020.
Banks is dean of the Texas A&M College of Engineering and vice chancellor of National Laboratories and National Security Strategic Initiatives, a title which she will retain as president.
Houston Mayor Sylvester Turner named Patricia Jefferson Daniel as the new city secretary on March 2. She succeeds the late Anna Russell who died in 2020 after serving in the role for seven decades.
Daniel, who worked alongside Russell for many years as assistant city secretary and assistant to the city secretary, has been a city of Houston employee for more than 36 years.
The city of Wimberley appointed Michael Boese as its new city administrator, effective March 29. He will take over for Interim City Administrator Paul Parker.
Boese currently serves as city manager of the city of Keene. Before that, he was city manager and police chief for the city of Venus.
The Cancer Prevention and Research Institute of Texas (CPRIT) appointed Tracey Davies as chief strategic initiatives and intellectual property officer on March 1.
Davies has more than 20 years of experience advising life science companies at all stages of development and research institutions across a broad range of business and legal issues. She is also a licensed patent attorney.
Gov. Greg Abbott announced these appointments and reappointments from February 19-March 4:
Texas Board of Pardons
Linda Molina - San Antonio
David Gutierrez - Salado (reappointed)
Ed Robertson - Pflugerville (reappointed)
Advisory Council on
Mike Arismendez - Hutto (reappointed)
Ezzard Castillo - Floresville (reappointed)
Ricardo Solis - Laredo (reappointed)
State Preservation Board
Alethea Swann Bugg - San Antonio (reappointed)
Rehabilitation Council of Texas
April Pollreisz - Amarillo
Texas State Council for Interstate Adult Offender Supervision
Pam Alexander-Schneider - Lubbock (reappointed)
Texas Juvenile Justice Department Independent Ombudsman
JD Robertson - Wimberley
Office of Public Insurance Counsel - Public Counsel
Melissa Hamilton - Austin
Division - Director
Erin Bennett - Austin
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 State Securities Board - Attorney I (2 positions)
Texas Department of Information Resources - Administrative Assistant IV (HR)