Volume 7, Issue 41 - January 27, 2016
What will we do about cyber threats?
Mary Scott Nabers, President/CEO, Strategic Partnerships, Inc.
Robert S. Mueller became the sixth director of the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) just one week before the attacks of September 11. After dealing with that horrific tragedy and then serving the country another 12 years, he commented as he was leaving that there are no higher threats to the country than cyber threats. While he was speaking about cyber breaches in both the public and private sectors, government is uniquely attractive to many hackers.

Today, public entities in the United States are susceptible to cyber threats on a daily basis. Protecting sensitive data at a time when public funding is reduced and regulations are changing is more challenging than ever.

In This Issue
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FirstNet issues RFP for emergency broadband network
Nationwide network to provide first responders with dedicated communications line
The First Responder Network Authority (FirstNet) has issued a request for proposals (RFP) seeking a partner to build a nationwide public safety broadband network. The goal of the project is to create a dedicated communications network that the nation's emergency responders can use without interference from the public's communications.

The RFP is the result of more than a year of communication among FirstNet and first responders around the country, who contributed ideas for what the network needed to accomplish. FirstNet also consulted the wireless telecommunications industry to get an idea of what they would like to see in the request and what was realistic for the technology. In preparing the RFP, FirstNet issued more than a dozen requests for information, released two draft RFP documents and held open meetings with the industry and potential vendors.

"This is an opportunity to revolutionize how first responders do their job, and we appreciate the valuable public safety feedback we have received to make this happen," said FirstNet President TJ Kennedy (pictured). "FirstNet is thrilled to issue an RFP that will promote innovation and deliver the best value to the public safety community."

The selected vendor will build and operate the emergency broadband system on 20 MHz of the 700 MHz broadband spectrum licensed to FirstNet, in addition to funding FirstNet's operations. In exchange for that, the private partner will receive as much as $6.5 billion from FirstNet and be able to make use of the rest of the network's capacity.

The RFP describes the "objectives-based approach" FirstNet is taking with the project. In describing the goals FirstNet expects to achieve with the broadband network rather than the path it will require a vendor to get there, the authority is attempting to allow its potential partners "the maximum opportunity and flexibility in the development of innovative solutions." That will give to the vendor the ability to form partnerships or arrangements with third parties to use the excess network capacity, thereby allowing the vendor to monetize its position as FirstNet's chosen partner.

Neither will FirstNet "seek to dictate the deployment strategy of the Offeror or the manner in which parties may or may not seek to align themselves through partnerships, joint ventures or other vehicles to produce an offer in response to this solicitation."

In essence, FirstNet is telling its prospective partners that it needs its dedicated broadband network, and, once that is accomplished, the winning bidder is free to make its money back as it sees fit.

Responses to FirstNet's request for proposals are due April 29.
 Notice to Interested Parties
The Lone Star Rail District (LSRD) proposes to develop a passenger rail line in the Austin-San Antonio Central Texas Corridor and a separate freight rail line. The District is currently conducting an environmental impact review of the project. Information on the proposed project can be found on the District's website. District staff's current recommendation is to proceed with a public-private partnership (P3) to deliver the project, most likely under a Design-Build-Operate-Maintain-Finance (DBOMF) agreement. LSRD is willing to entertain discussions with interested parties, but discussions are preliminary and any statements made by LSRD are not commitments and are subject to change. Any information provided by the third parties and the notes of any discussions may be released to proposers as part of any possible future procurement process.

The District requests that parties interested in a future proposal for a P3 agreement contact Joseph Black, Rail Director, at 512-375-1405 or jblack@lonestarrail.com, or Ross Milloy, Executive Director, at 512-558-7362 or rmilloy@lonestarrail.com for information. The District is not yet ready to accept proposals to enter into a P3 agreement.
Federal contractor contributions may be made public
President Obama may alter disclosure requirements for political contributions
Earlier this month, during his State of the Union address, President Barack Obama spoke of the need to "reduce the influence of money in our politics, so that a handful of families or hidden interests can't bankroll our elections."

The president went on to say, "And if our existing approach to campaign finance reform can't pass muster in the courts, we need to work together to find a real solution - because it's a problem."

Not holding out much hope that Congress will act on his wishes, Obama last week indicated that he is considering an executive order that would require all federal contractors to reveal contributions they've made to political groups. This so-called "Dark Money" has flourished in the years since the 2010 Supreme Court decision in the Citizens United case, which allowed corporations, associations and labor unions to spend money in an effort to influence political campaigns. Many of the groups given this money are not required to make public the names of their contributors.

In both 2010 and 2012, separate versions of the DISCLOSE Act attempted to implement disclosure requirements for federal contractors. Both died in the Senate, and neither got to the president's desk. Administration officials made clear the president's preference for Congress to act on the issue, but they also admitted that such a move was unlikely. Obama's potential action would require any company with a federal contract to disclose contributions to independent political groups. Contributions to actual candidates already are reported to and made public by the Federal Election Commission (FEC). The executive order would require contractors to release publicly their political spending, including money funneled through trade associations like the U.S. Chamber of Commerce.

"We have heard this order has been ready for the president's signature for the last several years," said Trevor Potter, formerly the chair of the FEC, "And I don't know of anyone on the outside who really knows whether the presidential pen will move across that piece of paper or not, or when."

There has been no further announcement since last week, when news outlets first reported the executive order might be imminent.

Upcoming contracting opportunities

Gov. Hassan submits 10-year transportation plan
Following a nationwide gubernatorial trend, New Hampshire Gov. Maggie Hassan (pictured) has announced a 10-year, $3.7 billion transportation plan that includes money for aging bridges, a project to widen Interstate 93 and the resurfacing of 200 miles of roads per year. Hassan's move is similar in nature to transportation plans put forth by the governors of Connecticut, Georgia and New York in recent months. The state's legislature will need to consider the plan Hassan submitted last week. It calls for more than $2.5 billion in federal funding and includes projects recommended by a public commission that held more than two dozen hearings in 2015. New Hampshire currently has 153 state bridges and 344 municipal bridges rated as having a structural flaw or functionally obsolete by current standards. After Congress passed the federal highway bill toward the end of last year, dedicating more funding to states for transportation projects, Hassan's administration added several more projects to the plan. Those include the replacement of the Hampton River Bridge near Hampton Beach instead of its repair. The plan also includes $4 million for environmental and engineering assessment work on a commuter rail project from Boston, Mass., through to Nashua and Manchester in New Hampshire.
Bay County staff urges rebid on public radio system
Bay County, Fla., first responders need a new communications system, and so the county commission issued a request for proposals (RFP) last year seeking a provider. Three proposals were submitted in response, and the county commission chose one. That's not the end of the story, however, as the winning bid came in almost $3 million higher than the lowest. County staff members have urged the commission to reissue the RFP in order to ensure the county gets the best deal possible. "There was a mistake in the scoring used in the evaluation process, and questions have arisen about the RFP criteria," Jennifer Shuler, assistant county attorney, said. "It is staff's recommendation that it would be in the county's best interest to reject all proposals and readvertise the project." The digital public radio system would be used by the county's emergency responders, including police and firefighters.
Goodlettsville to build sidewalks, beautify Main Street
Leaders of the city of Goodlettsville, Tenn., will use a federal grant to fund the majority of a downtown revitalization and beautification project. The city, located north of Nashville,  is planning an $11.6 million project that will build sidewalks, move overhead utilities underground and address parking along its Main Street district. Aside from its beautification aspects, the project will resolve safety issues around the Goodlettsville Antique Mall. "It's completely unsafe for pedestrian traffic," City Commissioner Zach Young (pictured) said. "It's completely unsafe for the cars traveling, for the amount of traffic." According to officials with the city's Metro Planning Organization, a federal grant will cover $9.3 million of the project's total costs. A construction date has not yet been set.
Algonquin approves funding for street improvements
The Algonquin, Ill., Village Board and the McHenry County Council of Mayors are jointly funding a road improvement project in the city and neighboring Barrington Hills. The total costs of the project will come in at about $2.7 million. The project will widen about one mile of Highland Avenue, add new curbing and gutters and include an enclosed storm sewer system. The county's funding will be drawn from the Council of Mayors' Surface Transportation Program. The deal also requires an intergovernmental agreement with Barrington Hills. Algonquin Assistant Village Manager Mike Kumbera said that the city plans to complete the project within two years. It will be the first of several similar projects to improve mobility within the city.
Baltimore seeks bidders for new red light cameras
The city of Baltimore's Department of Transportation has issued a request for proposals (RFP) for an automated traffic violation enforcement system (ATVES).  The system will operate citywide but begin with the installation of up to 10 red light camera systems, 10 fixed speed camera systems and 10 portable speed enforcement systems during its first year of operation. "The Baltimore City Department of Transportation is implementing a new ATVES program at the request of citizens and communities throughout the city to improve pedestrian, bicyclist and vehicular safety," said Department of Transportation Director William Johnson (pictured). "The primary goal of the program is to provide consistent enforcement of traffic regulations in order to modify driver behavior and reduce crashes, injuries and fatalities." The RFP states that the selected vendor will operate the program for five years with two renewable two-year options. Responses are due Feb. 22.
Paterson City Council approves armory demolition
The Paterson Armory in Paterson, N.J., caught fire and burned down in November 2015, and city council last week agreed to borrow the funding for its demolition. The project will demolish part of the building that is beyond saving, secure the remainder of the structure, undertake its environmental remediation and conduct preliminary costs analysis to rebuild a section of it. The reconstruction project would rebuild the front administration portion of the historic building for housing or office space. "The plan is to retain that section, and the rest of it will be demolition," said City Council President William McKoy. The project will preserve as much of the 120-year-old building as is possible, rebuild it and then sell it to a developer or renovate it for city offices. Most of the funding will go toward the costs of demolishing the abandoned building, and the rest of the $1.1 million bonding will fund the securing of the structure and the architectural study.
Dayton proposes $1.4 billion in bonding for Minnesota
The government of the state of Minnesota has a budget surplus, and Gov. Mark Dayton (pictured) wants to take advantage of that and low interest rates to invest in the state's infrastructure through a $1.4 billion bond request. "This is a tremendous opportunity to make the kind of significant investment in the future of Minnesota - in our infrastructure, in our higher education buildings - that we need and that we are seriously behind in accomplishing," Dayton said. The request to the legislature includes $343 million for construction on university campuses and $220 million for water projects throughout the state. Those projects include $167 million to update water treatment systems among urban populations and $53 million for water protection measures. State officials noted that 35 percent of the projects are for Minnesota's largest urban center of Minneapolis and St. Paul, 35 percent are in the rest of Minnesota and 30 percent are statewide projects. State legislators will open their session March 8.
Michigan college builds $7.3 million of student housing
On-campus housing at Northwestern Michigan College (NMC) in Traverse City has reached capacity, and the school has instituted a waiting list for students who wish to live in school-provided dormitories. The situation has convinced school officials of the necessity of building more campus housing. "One of the reasons that NMC is looked at statewide is because we are one of the few community colleges that actually offers on-campus residency, and that's a big deal for people that are coming up," said Cathryn Claerhout, NMC admissions director. The school will build a $7.3 million housing development on a site that currently features a softball field. The building will be three stories and have 36 units, which will allow for 144 beds. The college will pay for the development with a 20-year bond, and plans are for it to be completed by August 2017.
Williamsburg City Council approves school site
The Williamsburg, Va., City Council this month gave its approval to the first step in the process of allowing the Williamsburg-James City County School Division to build a fourth middle school. The council approved the site of the former James Blair Middle School in Williamsburg as an appropriate location for a new school. "This site served the entire community as a school for decades. It worked very well," Vice Mayor Paul Freiling (pictured) said. "The question at hand is, 'Is this an appropriate land use for this purpose at this site?' And I think it is." Construction of the new middle school is contingent on traffic improvements around the property, including the realignment of Longhill Road and the addition of both a new intersection and an accompanying traffic signal. The intersection project is expected to begin in April 2017. The school, if the project is approved, would be constructed in two phases: the first to accommodate 600 students and open in 2018 and the second to expand capacity to 900 students and open in 2023. The approval could come as soon as March, which would allow the demolition of the old middle school to start in September.
Shakopee council approves Quarry Lake Park funding
The Shakopee, Minn., City Council last week approved a measure that will initiate the building of Quarry Lake Park, more than a decade after the city purchased the land for the park. The city will begin to seek bids for the first phase of the project Feb. 23. This first phase will cost about $1.8 million and include earthwork, soil corrections, utilities work and the addition of parking lots. The total cost of the park project is anticipated to be about $6.2 million, and a new events venue will be constructed on park land as well, at a cost of another $2 million. The venue will be built in a later phase of the park project. It is to be rented out to host weddings and other events.

News about public-private partnerships (P3s)

Purdue, West Lafayette close to choosing P3 partner
Purdue University and the city of West Lafayette, Ind., are seeking a partner to remake a main street that runs from the Wabash River up to the school's campus. The project to rebuild State Street and the surrounding area has been in the works for three years, and now the public entities have made their recommendation for the partner. Two consortiums submitted proposals for the project in December, and the city and the university made their choice after a month of review. The public will now have its chance to review the chosen proposal before the official decision is made in February. The State Street Master Plan, drawn up two years ago, calls for moving traffic away from the center of campus, making State Street easier to travel for both pedestrians and cyclists and adjusting the area's infrastructure and design to encourage commercial and retail growth. The chosen developer will pay the upfront costs and maintain the development for 22 years. Plans are for construction to be completed by the end of 2018.
Miami Beach transit P3 to build streetcar, rail system
The city of Miami Beach issued a request for proposals Jan. 12 seeking a partner to build a street car and light-rail system. The push for the transit system was initiated last year when a private company approached the city with an unsolicited offer to build a 14-mile link between downtown Miami and the Miami Beach Convention Center, along with five miles of stops through South Beach's entertainment district. Now, city commissioners have taken that idea to the open market to see how much competition they can drum up for the original proposal. They also decided against seeking federal dollars for construction, as that could add years to the process. As it is and if all goes smoothly, the project could break ground within three years. The unsolicited proposal laid out a plan for the private partner to design, build, finance, operate and maintain the system, recouping its costs through taxpayer dollars over the course of a 35-year period. The system would connect and be a part of a larger light-rail system called Baylink. Miami-Dade County officials, however, have said they want one operator to manage the entire transit system. It remains unclear how that desire will affect Miami Beach's efforts. Responses to the RFP are due May 16.
Cal Poly to build on-campus housing for faculty, staff
Due to the high cost of housing in the San Luis Obispo, Calif., area, leaders of California Polytechnic State University (Cal Poly) have approved the construction of 420 apartment units to serve as affordable housing for faculty and staff. The apartments will be located on the school's campus and be built as a public-private partnership (P3). The size and cost of each apartment unit have yet to be determined, but the salaries of staff and faculty members will be taken into account when rates are set. "We need housing that our workforce can afford, that's within walking distance of campus," Cal Poly President Jeffrey Armstrong (pictured) said. "It's a recruitment issue." The project is in its earliest phase and will need to gain the approval of the California State University Board of Trustees, but the request for that approval could be issued before midyear. Armstrong also said that this isn't the only P3 Cal Poly officials are interested in; a planned new dormitory also could be built using both public and private funding. Other Cal State universities have made use of the funding model in the recent past, including those in Fresno and Channel Islands.
North Carolina's I-77 P3 moving toward construction
North Carolina Gov. Pat McCrory has asked local transportation officials to approve a public-private partnership (P3) that will expand Interstate 77 between Charlotte and Mooresville, and last week the Charlotte City Council did just that. The North Carolina Department of Transportation (NCDOT) also has given its approval to the project, and the Charlotte Regional Transportation Planning Organization is next on the list. The project will convert one high-occupancy-vehicle lane in each direction to an express lane and construct two additional express lanes in each direction. Public funding will come in at less than $100 million of the $647 million total. Construction is expected to begin by 2018, more than 15 years earlier than the NCDOT had planned to begin on its own.
Port of Philadelphia chooses teams for development P3
The Philadelphia Regional Port Authority (PRPA) issued a request for qualifications in September 2015 to identify developers to design, build, finance, operate and maintain commercial and industrial facilities located on three sites at the Port of Philadelphia's Southport Marine Terminal Complex. The sites are situated on 106 acres of river-front property. Last week, the PRPA's Board of Directors announced it had chosen finalists to compete for the chance to develop each of the three sites. Requests for proposals (RFPs) will be issued to the selected groups in the next few weeks, and responses will be due by the summer. Six groups in total were selected to receive the RFPs, a few of which will have the chance to develop more than one of the sites. Four teams will compete to develop Site 1, five for Site 2 and another four for the third site. Construction is expected to begin in 2017.
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