Government Contracting Pipeline
Volume 7, Issue 8May 27, 2015
There's an app for it...or at least there will be soon
Mary Scott Nabers, President/CEO, Strategic Partnerships, Inc.

Mary Scott Nabers

Americans are more mobile than ever and what a change that is creating for public entities. More than 90 percent of the United States population own cell phones and more than half have smartphones, according to Pew Research. Mobile devices have become the #1 choice for communicating with government - and public officials have taken note. In most cities and states, people communicate with government entities in hundreds of ways.

Some snap a picture on their phone and then report potholes that are dangerous; others comment on policy. Thousands of citizens now make transactions, request information or renew licenses online. Very few prefer to visit a governmental entity in person.



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Congress passes short-term transportation fund extension


Administration not done on urging long-term fix before new deadline in July

Josh Earnest It's back to square one for any immediate hope of a long-term transportation funding fix by the federal government. The U.S. Congress, after Senate passage last Saturday of a bill approved earlier in the week by the House, has once again approved and sent to the President a stop-gap, two-month extension of funding for the federal Highway Trust Fund. The current program that provides funding was set to expire May 31. This newly approved bill now gives Congress yet another chance at a more comprehensive bill before the new deadline expires on July 31.

The two-month extension is the good news for state and local governments that have either put millions of dollars' worth of major transportation projects on hold indefinitely or were wringing their hands over how they would fund the remaining costs of some projects already under way.

The bad news is that before July 31, Congress will once again be back to square one. And, finding common ground in Congress for a long-term proposal has been a little difficult of late. Actually, members of Congress have been wrangling over a long-term bill since 2008 without any success.

Prior to the transportation funding votes, White House Press Secretary Josh Earnest (pictured) said during a press briefing that President Barack Obama was in discussions with congressional leaders regarding the extension of transportation funding. "The President has routinely and consistently indicated a willingness to try to find bipartisan common ground about the best way to ensure that we're making the necessary investments Highway Construction in our infrastructure," said Earnest. "That's critically important to preserving the near-term momentum of our economic recovery. It's also critically important to the long-term prospects of economic growth."

Earnest said that while the President still sees his GROW AMERICA Act as a "common sense proposal" to address the growing transportation needs of the country, the President is "open to consideration" of other proposals.

The President's proposal includes spending $478 billion for transportation needs over six years. It also proposed a one-time, 14 percent tax on some $2 trillion in untaxed funds that American companies have earned and left overseas. 


The White House spokesman admitted that a short-term extension is probably not the outcome hoped for, but added, "If what all Congress can do is pass a short-term extension, we're hopeful that members of Congress will use that short-term extension to negotiate something longer term."


This current "patch" in the funding program is the 33rd time for such a maneuver in only six years. The Highway Trust Fund depends on federal gas taxes, which have not been increased since 1993. Lawmakers are reluctant to raise the tax, because taxpayers are feeling "taxed out." However, some states have increased their own gas taxes to help bring in additional revenue. 


CalPERS announces $1 billion infrastructure partnership


Will work with Australian firm to invest in water, power, transportation projects

Paul Mouchakkaa The nation's largest public pension system has announced a $1 billion partnership with an Australian firm to invest in infrastructure projects in Asia. The California Public Employees' Retirement System (CalPERS) recently announced it is teaming with QIC Ltd., seeking to invest in water, power, transportation and infrastructure projects. The partnership is part of a growing trend for pension systems to invest in transportation projects. These projects create a long-term source of income for the retirement systems and usually at a better return rate than traditional investments. CalPERS is no stranger to infrastructure investments - it currently has $2.1 billion of its investment portfolio in infrastructure investments.

The joint project is CalPERS' first Asia-Pacific infrastructure commitment. "This is a great opportunity to expand our infrastructure portfolio and to enter the Asia-Pacific market," said Paul Mouchakkaa (pictured), CalPERS Senior Investment Officer for Real Assets, which includes the Infrastructure program.
The specially designed agreement between CalPERS and QIC provides that QIC will obtain, structure and manage the portfolio of assets. 

CalPERS' investments have provided retirement and health assurance for public school, state and agency members for more than 80 years. It currently serves more than 1.7 million members. Its total fund market value currently totals approximately $307 billion.

May 2015 Texas Bond Results

Other upcoming opportunities

Bidding process to begin next month for tunnel for Sound Transit train

Work is expected to begin soon when the bidding process begins next month on an underground tunnel on the corner of Main and 112th in Bellevue, Washington. The tunnel, only about 60 feet deep and running 2,000 feet, will be wide enough to hold two different East Link trains of the Sound Transit. This time around, the bidding process will consider past performance of contractors when it picks the winning bid. "The bidding is open, and we won't select any contractor who doesn't have experience doing this and we don't believe won't finish the job on time, or on budget," said Sound Transit spokesperson Bruce Gray. Although construction could begin on the tunnel by the end of this year, Sound Transit officials say that the East Link is not scheduled for completion until 2023.


Corpus Christi planning to consolidate wastewater plants into one $1.3B plant

Mark Van Vleck The city of Corpus Christi is embarking on an ambitious undertaking. The city will be seeking to consolidate six wastewater treatment plants in the city into one regional plant. The project could take up to two decades to complete. The city will issue a request for qualifications (RFQ) for interested and qualified contractors to propose a plan regarding how the $1.3 billion plant will be built - and where. The plan would describe how the loads from all six plants would be gradually worked into the new facility during the construction phase. "None of us want to spend $1 billion, but if we're going to do it, we want to feel good it's done right and it's something well be proud of," said Mark Van Vleck (pictured), utilities director for the city. Maintenance costs for the old facilities over the next 15-20 years would be comparable to the cost of a new facility, but it would also put the city's most recently built plant at 55 years old. City Manager Ron Olson also noted that as the plants get older, the operational and maintenance problems grow. Customers would see costs about the same over the first 15 years, but expect they would be smaller after that time.


City in New Mexico seeking loan to help finance water system improvements

With needs of millions of dollars for water system improvements, the city of Jal, New Mexico, is seeking $11 million in grants and loans from the federal government. City officials are hopeful for an $11.3 million loan/grant from the U.S. Department of Agriculture's Rural Development Department. The funding will come in handy since officials say it will take $6 million to replace every water line in the city. An increase in water rates for residents of the city would be necessary to help pay back the $5 million loan.  


City of New Rochelle seeking tech proposals to provide online information

In the city of New Rochelle, New York, officials are seeking proposals for qualified technology experts to develop tools for its residents. These tools will provide location-based information for residents and visitors to the city as well as businesses. Some of the tools and applications the city is seeking will involve traffic updates, parking efficiency, news and tourism in the city. Additionally, the city would like to provide links to emergency services such as police, fire and ambulance. And, the city fathers are not opposed to proposals that include advertising, which could mean additional revenue for the city. Added outcomes from the apps and tools could aid revitalization of the downtown area, promotion of small businesses and creating an emergency system network. 


Land purchase in New Mexico city first step toward constructing new hospital

Charles Grieto Purchase of 14 acres of land is the first step toward the city of Belen, New Mexico, building a new hospital. In 2013, Valencia County commissioners awarded $23 million to Belen to build a hospital. But, the construction was delayed by a lawsuit filed by the village of Los Lunas, which claimed the tax dollars should have gone to that village. Although that case is still pending in the New Mexico Court of Appeals, Los Lunas Mayor Charles Griego (pictured) says the village has since decided not to build a hospital and is now considering opening an urgent care clinic. The developer who had planned to build the hospital in Los Lunas withdrew from the project because of all of the delays. Once the hospital construction begins, it should take about a year and a half before it is completed. 


City officials to release request for proposals for west Midland fire station

A request for proposals for a new fire station in Midland will soon be advertised by city officials. The City Council authorized seeking proposals for a new station to join the other 10 city-owned facilities. The city plans to move Station 6 to an area near Legends Park near the sports complex. While no hard costs  have been determined yet, City Manager Courtney Sharp said the proposed new station would likely have comparable costs of the most recent station, which is 12,000 square feet and cost $4.2 million. 


Joint committee in Nevada approves funding for major projects in state

The Nevada joint Ways and Means and Senate Finance subcommittee recently approved funding for both a new University of Nevada Las Vegas Hotel College academic building and a new Department of Motor Vehicles service office in Las Vegas. The academic building was allocated $50 million for construction and the DMV facility was approved for $23 million. Also approved was more than $48 million for a new 96-bed veteran's nursing home. These were among eight new projects approved by the subcommittee that will require close to $42 million in state funding and almost $92 million from other revenue sources. All are part of the capital improvement plan for the 2015-17 budget. The UNLV hotel college building will include 93,500 square feet that has classrooms and other facilities. The DMV building will be a 38,500-square-foot facility.  


Downtown biomedical campus in Phoenix planning sizable expansion

Michael Crow The Phoenix Biomedical Campus is growing after the City Council approved a proposal by Arizona State University (ASU) and NantWorks to include about seven acres in the ASU lease agreement. The expansion will be for development of a technology-based health research hub. The four blocks included in the additional space were already set to be developed under the biomedical campus master plan. ASU President Michael Crow (pictured) said NantWorks will invest $75 million in the first phase of the project that will include 200,000 square feet of development. Each part of the phased project will include land. The university will lease each site for 30 years and then ownership will transfer to ASU. The project will build on the health care programs the university already has downtown. The early efforts likely will focus on cancer detection and treatment.  


Nebraska school district residents approve $57.4 million bond proposal

Voters in the Gretna (Nebraska) School District recently approved a $57.4 million bond proposal that officials say was needed to keep up with a rapidly growing student population. Included in the bond proposal are $34.6 million for a new middle school, $17 million for a new elementary school, $3 million for technology and security upgrades, $2 million for land acquisition for future schools and $800,000 for an expansion of the bus barn and maintenance area. School officials hope to bid the projects this fall.


Contracting Opportunities

Who's winning government contracts?


Check out these recent awards: 

  • NV5 Holdings, Inc. has been awarded a three-year contract worth $2.95 million by the San Diego Unified School District to provide as-needed geotechnical engineering and construction materials testing services.
  • Mid-Tex won a $3.45 million construction contract from the city of San Angelo, Texas, to build a new fire training center that includes a five-story "burn" tower.
  • Utility Service Company was awarded a $500,000 repair and maintenance contract from the city of Urbana, Ohio, to repair the city's aging 500,000-gallon water tower.
  • Student Transportation of America, Inc. has been awarded a $3 million annual contract from the Lake Oswego School District in New Jersey to provide school transportation services to the district. The initial five-year contract provides for customer-shared fuel costs and includes a five year option to extend.
  • Larson-Danielson Construction Co. won a $10,060,079 contract to build a new police station for the Michigan City, Indiana, Police Department.
  • JNB Construction won a $691,187 contract from the city of Hewitt, Texas, for water utility line work to connect an existing city well with a 1-million gallon elevated storage tank in the city's Commerce Park business district.
  • Trahan Construction was awarded a contract for $25,294,362.70 by the city of Broussard, Louisiana, for Phase II of St. Julien Park, which will include completion of all baseball and soccer fields, concession stands, pavilions, walking and jogging trail ponds, landscaping and roads in the park.
  • Little Manufacturing won a $59,500 contract from the Wylie (Texas) Independent School District to seal coat parking lots at three campuses - the elementary, intermediate and middle schools.
  • New Atlantic Contracting was awarded a $52.6 million from the Davie County (North Carolina) schools for construction of a new Davie High School. With more than $2.9 million for site work, the total is $55,593,287.
  • Skanska USA Building Inc. won a $2,023,793 contract from the Port Arthur (Texas) Independent School District to oversee the first $100 million in projects for the district's $195 million school bond. 
SPI Training Services

News about public-private partnerships (P3)


Emanuel pushing p
ublic-private partnerships to grow technology sector

Rahm Emanuel Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel (pictured) sees public-private partnerships as key to ensuring a bigger technology presence in the city and to creating an environment where technology talent, venture capitalists and entrepreneurs want to come. The mayor said bringing a growing technology presence to the city will benefit everyone, particularly residents and students who do not have access to the benefits that would result. "When it comes to technology, when it comes to what's happening in that space, to the digital economy, it's not about government or the private sector, but it's about creating a public-private partnership, and each of us know our respective roles," said Emanuel. He said he sees it as his job to secure major federal research for the city through its universities, where the next generation of innovative thinkers will see their ideas become realities.


UGS enters into long-term public-private partnerships for campus living

A more than $548 million first phase of a public-private partnership with the University of Georgia System (UGS) has been inked with a private-sector firm that works with universities to create residence halls and other on-campus living needs. The 65-year partnership will improve student housing at nine UGS campuses. The firm will be responsible for the development, construction, management and maintenance of more than 3,700 new beds and almost 6,200 current beds. The private firm will make an up-front payment of $6.3 million for repairs and renovations at residence halls during the first year of the agreement. Six campuses already are gearing up for new housing to be built.  In addition to the developer, local private businesses will also benefit. The company has hired Georgia-based architecture, engineering and construction firms for the projects and will also seek more subcontractors. Some of the upgrades and renovations will be done as early as the fall. The new beds will be built without adding new debt, thanks to the partnership. 


Ohio city studies partnering with private water utility to keep rate increases low

Tanisha Briley Officials in Cleveland Heights, Ohio, are hoping that entering into a public-private partnership with a private water utility will help them keep rate increases low. City Manager Tanisha Briley (pictured) said among the reasons for such a partnership is "the desire to avoid cuts to city services and protect customers from sudden, steep rate increases that would be required if the city were to make the needed system repairs, and prevent further deficits." Under terms of the proposed agreement, the private-sector partner would give the city $3.7 million up front to cover the current year deficit in the city's water system budget. That plan would include a rate plan with five-year increment and a rate increase cap to keep rates at "reasonable" levels. The water system revenues would be shared by the two partners. The private firm would pay the city for its water department payroll and water purchases from the Cleveland Division of Water and for infrastructure improvements. The utility would also bill customers and determine how many water department workers are needed to carry out the role of the department. Broken pipes and leaky meters are responsible for the loss of up to 60 percent of the water being bought by the city. The city has worked over a year on trying to improve the water system. Because it is still losing water, officials turned to the possibility of a public-private partnership, which also is less costly than borrowing up to $20 million for necessary fixes, repairs and upgrades. 


With funding in hand, North Carolina's I-77 toll project can go forward

Delayed since January, the funding necessary to go forward with the Interstate 77 toll lanes project has now been secured and officials are ready to get the project under way. The project is being financed by private activity bonds (PABs) and a loan from the federal Transportation Infrastructure Finance and Innovation Act (TIFIA) Credit Council. A private developer is now set to begin construction on the interstate this summer between exits 11 and 36. The project calls for making a current high-occupancy vehicle lane into an express toll lane, with a new express lane added. The North Carolina Department of Transportation said use of the express lanes will require a toll fee, which has been estimated as anywhere from a few dollars to $20. However, any vehicle with at least three passengers can use the toll lanes free. The PABs will be repaid by the private partner.  In a statement, the North Carolina Department of Transportation noted, "Taking advantage of historically low interest rates and P3 (public-private partnership) projects like this one are vital in connecting people to jobs, health care, education and recreation as traditional transportation revenue is not keeping pace with growth."  


P3 agreement could lead to new three-story hotel for city in Minnesota

A public-private partnership could lead to a new hotel adjacent to the city golf course. The Virginia, Minnesota, city council recently approved a feasibility study for a $4.5 million, 54-unit, three-story hotel. A representative of a development firm that is involved in another proposed hotel discussed the possibility of a new hotel with Virginia City Administrator John Tourville. After bringing the question before the city councilors, the city officials approved a feasibility study. The developer said if the project is approved, his firm will raise 40 percent equity, with the rest of the funds to come from shares sold to investors. He said the firm also likes to work with local banks. Once completed, the hotel would be furnished, have a pool and hot tub, beer and wine bar and wireless Internet access. There are, however, no plans for a restaurant. 


Collaboration Nation

Where are they now?

 Are you a government official who has moved into a new position or to a new agency? Did you recently retire? Were you recently named to an executive-level position at a state-supported college, university or community college? Have you secured a new job as superintendent of a public school? If so, we'd like to hear from you - and so would your friends and colleagues - for our "Where Are They Now" column. Just drop us a line at and let us know about your previous job and where you are now. This week we feature Cherri Branson. 


Cherri Branson Cherri Branson (pictured), a former Montgomery County, Maryland, County council member, has been appointed by County Executive Isiah Leggett to lead the county's Office of Procurement. Branson brings more than two decades of experience at the local and federal levels of government, with extensive experience in the federal government relating to procurement oversight. Branson most recently served the county as a member of the County Council for nearly a year in December, filling the vacancy created by the resignation of another member of the council. Branson previously was Chief Counsel for Oversight for the House Committee on Homeland Security (DHS), where she developed an oversight agenda for contracting with DHS. She was also a senior investigative counsel for the same committee from 2005 to 2007. She also previously served as an associate counsel to the Subcommittee on Human Resources and Intergovernmental Relations Committee on Government Relations, conducting investigations regarding federal contracting practices. Branson holds a bachelor's degree from Vassar College and a law degree from Indiana University School of Law at Bloomington. She also holds a Master of Laws (LL.M.) degree from Emory University School of Law.


Opportunity of the week...

Bids are being sought for a number of specialists for a $1.8 billion airport terminal project in the Southeast. Among the services that will be bid are a prime design consultant, an architect of record, a civil engineer, mechanical engineers, electrical engineer, up to three construction managers-at-risk and more. Work on the project is expected to begin in 2017.Want to know more? Contact our Sales Team at 512-531-3900 or


Denise Turner Roth Mary Hensley Ann Shortell Denise Turner Roth (top left), a former city manager and legislative aide and deputy administrator for the General Services Administration (GSA) for the last year, has been nominated by the Obama administration to lead the GSA, replacing Dan Tangherlini, who left the post in February. Blinn College in Brenham, Texas, will have its first female president when Dr. Mary Hensley (top center) takes over after having served at the Austin Community College for 14 years, the last six and one-half years as Executive Vice President for College Operations. The St. Johns River Water Management District Governing Board has selected Ann Shortelle (top right) as the agency's next executive director, effective June 1 and replacing Hans Tanzler III, who is returning to the private sector. California Department of Health Care Services CIO and Deputy Director Chris Cruz has been appointed chief deputy director of operations at the California Department of Technology, replacing Ron Hughes, who retired from public service last summer. Davood Ghods, who for the last years and a half has been leading the California Office of Technology Services as chief, is planning to retire in August, capping more than 25 years in the public sector and a busy year and a half leading the California Office of Technology Services (OTech). The superintendent for Mecklenburg County's public schools, James Thornton, will take over that same position in Isle of Wight County and will succeed Gail Roper Carole Brown Dan Heyns Superintendent Katrise Perera, who plans to resign at the end of the year. Gail Roper (bottom right), who has served as the city of Raleigh's chief information officer since 2006, has resigned from her position, effective June 5, and will work in the private sector directing technology strategy for the St. Joe Company in Wastersound, Florida. Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel has named former CTA Chairwoman Carole Brown (bottom center), an investment banker, to take over as his chief financial officer, succeeding Lois Scott, who announced early this month that she was stepping down after serving as CFO for Emanuel's first term. Dan Heyns (bottom left) will step down June 30 after four years as Michigan's corrections director and become an adviser in the office of Gov. Rick Snyder, and will be replaced by Heidi Washington of East Lansing, who is warden at the Charles Egeler Reception and Guidance Center in Jackson. The Wythe County (Virginia) School Board has chosen Jeff Perry, current superintendent of Wise County Public Schools, to be the new superintendent of Wythe County schools, replacing Superintendent Lee Brannon, who is retiring. Kevin O'Connor, a 26-year veteran of the Columbus, Ohio, Division of Fire, has been appointed the 24th chief of the Division, replacing the recently retired Chief Gregory A. Paxton. The Mississippi College Board has named University of Mississippi Provost Morris Stocks to lead the university on an interim basis beginning June 15, following Chancellor Dan Jones announcing he would be leaving his job in June.


Let us help advertise your event on our calendar
Does your organization or agency have an upcoming event that would be of interest to either vendors who do business with government or officials and workers in state and local government, higher education, public education or health care? Are you planning a webinar? A conference or seminar? The Government Contracting Pipeline invites government and nonprofits to send information regarding your events for consideration to be included in our FREE Calendar of Events section below. In addition to providing contact information, the day, date, time and a synopsis of the event, you may also include a link to additional information on your Web page and/or a link to online registration that we'll include. Please submit your event information to

Calendar of events

VIA Rail Canada CEO to address multi-billion-dollar P3 project
Yves Desjardins-Siciliano, president and CEO of VIA Rail Canada, will be the speaker for the June 4 Canadian Council for Public-Private Partnerships luncheon event focused on "VIA Rail's P3 Solution to Ever-Increasing Taxpayer Subsidies." The event will be at the Toronto Hilton Hotel (Toronto Ballroom), 145 Richmond Street West, Toronto, Ontario. Desjardins-Siciliano will discuss VIA Rail's strategy to raise $2 billion in private funds, likely through a public-private partnership. The money will be used to build dedicated passenger tracks as part of a $3 billion endeavor to provide high-frequency, reliable service from Toronto in Ottawa, Ontario, and Montreal, Quebec. More information is available at Registration is now open and seating is limited.

2015 AFT Public Employees National Conference set this month
American Federation of Teachers (AFT) President Randi Weingarten will be the keynote speaker for the upcoming 2015 AFT Public Employees National Conference. The event will be May 28-30 at the Hyatt Regency Denver, Colorado Convention Center. The conference explores issues facing federal, state and local government employees across the country. The theme for the event is "Reclaiming the Promise of Quality Public Services for Strong Communities." Pre-conference workshops on May 28 will address topics such as challenges to union security and public speaking. Other topics for workshops during the conference include infrastructure investment, pensions and retirement security and creative solutions for paying for quality public services. Online registration has begun and a draft agenda is available.

Government Finance Officers Association plans conference in Philadelphia
The Government Finance Officers Association (GFOA) will host its 109th Annual Conference - Innovation and Resilience May 31-June 3 in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. The concurrent sessions will be held at the Pennsylvania Convention Center, 1101 Arch Street, Philadelphia. Attendees will learn about implementation of best practices in public finance from successful governments, leading practitioners and other experts. The GFOA annual conference will feature sessions focused on improving government (financial resiliency, changes in accounting and financial reporting, how to best use new technologies, making sense of big data, developing investment strategies, communicating financial information, debt management, disaster management, capital finance), as well as sessions focused on improving skills as a finance officer (leadership skills, managing employees, personal productivity). General sessions will feature nationally recognized speakers and an exhibit hall will be open to those at the conference. Attendees can earn up to 21 continuing professional education (CPE) credits by attending. Registration is open and a conference brochure is available.

National State Auditors Association plans conference in early June
The National State Auditor's Association Annual Conference is scheduled for June 9-12 in Little Rock, Arkansas. The event will be at the Little Rock Marriott Hotel, Three Statehouse Plaza. Included in the event will be a presentation on the "State of the States" by Scott Pattison, executive director of the National Association of State Budget Officers. Other session topics address ethics, IT security and more. Up to 16 credits for continuing professional education (CPE) are available for attendees. The draft program is available and registration is open. 
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