Posts Tagged ‘contracting’

State Board Authorizes First Contract With Former Employee As Required Under New Law

By Sean Whaley | 3:19 pm November 8th, 2011

CARSON CITY – The state Board of Examiners today authorized the Agency for Nuclear Projects to hire a former employee in a contract position to help continue the fight against Yucca Mountain.

Approval from the board, made up of Gov. Brian Sandoval, Attorney General Catherine Cortez Masto and Secretary of State Ross Miller, is now required for such agreements with current or former state employees as a result of a new law approved by the 2011 Legislature.

The law was passed after a legislative audit found numerous concerns with current and former state employees being hired as contractors to work for state agencies, sometimes at a much higher rate of pay. Many of the contracts were not clearly disclosed by state agencies.

The board, which met without Masto, approved the request from the agency to enter into a contract to hire Joe Strolin, its former acting executive director and Planning Division administrator. The actual contract, which will come to the board at its next meeting, is for one year at a cost of $50,000.

Bob Halstead, executive director of the nuclear projects agency, told the board that Nevada faces a serious threat to revive Yucca Mountain as a high-level repository for nuclear waste. The qualifications of Strolin will serve the agency well in its preparation to fight this effort, he said.

Nuclear Projects Executive Director Bob Halstead testifies today at the Board of Examiners. / Nevada News Bureau.

“I understand the intent of the Legislature to set a high bar for the approval of these types of exceptional requests,” Halstead said. “We have a situation where we have an extreme need, we have an individual with unique capabilities and experience, and it will help us within a difficult budget.”

The Yucca Mountain repository has been declared dead after President Obama pulled the plug on the project in 2010.

But Halstead said there are numerous forces that want the Yucca Mountain project to be revived and a critical time in this fight will begin in January. One battlefront is a federal lawsuit by the states of Washington and South Carolina to reactivate the licensing process for Yucca Mountain, he said.

“On the one hand, I don’t want to come before you and say that Yucca Mountain is alive again,” Halstead told Sandoval. “But our job is to keep Yucca Mountain dead, and there is a serious effort on the part of a number of parties to resume the licensing process. That is why it is important for Nevada to maintain its vigilance, both through the Agency for Nuclear Projects in your office, and through the attorney general’s office.”

Sandoval said Halstead made a compelling argument to hire Strolin, and the board voted to approve the request.

The new rules prohibit a current state employee from being hired under contract by a state agency unless approved by the Board of Examiners. The same approval is required of a former state employee who has not been out of state employment for at least two years.

Such contracts can only be approved if certain circumstances are found to exist, including situations where a short-term or unusual economic circumstance exists for an agency requiring such employment.

The legislative audit identified 250 current and former employees providing services to the state. These employees were paid a total of $11.6 million during fiscal years 2008 and 2009, the years covered by the review.

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Audio clips:

Nuclear Projects Executive Director Bob Halstead says he understands the legislative intent of the new law:

110811Halstead1 :22 a difficult budget.”

Halstead says Strolin’s expertise is important for the fight against Yucca Mountain:

110811Halstead2 :28 attorney general’s office.”

 

Lawmakers Consider Bill To Improve Efficiency And Transparency Of Government Contracting

By Sean Whaley | 5:49 pm March 25th, 2011

CARSON CITY – The Senate majority leader today advanced a bill intended to make state and local government contracts more efficient and transparent to benefit both taxpayers and consumers was reviewed by a legislative subcommittee on Friday.

Among other provisions, Senate Bill 359 would require government contracts to be put out to bid rather than rolled over year after year to the same contractor. It would require all fees charged to the public in government contracts to be disclosed by the contractor. It would also require an annual report to the state on sole source contracting by agencies, which would then be provided to the Legislature’s Interim Finance Committee.

State agencies and local governments would have to report this information to the state Purchasing Division, which would compile the data and forward it to lawmakers.

Senate Majority Leader Steven Horsford, D-Las Vegas, one of the sponsors of the bill, said the measure could result in savings to state and local governments because contracts would be subjected to competition.

“This is a bill that goes to the heart of one of the things that we’ve been trying to accomplish this entire session: good government and government efficiency,” he said. “As we address the critical need for new revenue to support education and vital social services in this state, we also must face head-on the question of whether government is delivering services as efficiently as possible.

“Every dollar we save through efficiency measures is a dollar in new revenue we don’t have to raise,” Horsford said.

In a hearing earlier this session, Horsford expressed concern that recipients of jobless benefits and temporary assistance grants are being charged banking fees to withdraw funds from these government funded programs.

Evidence was also presented of sole-source contracts renewed year after year with no competitive bidding, he said.

Sen. Mo Denis, D-Las Vegas, a primary sponsor of the bill, said the legislation would also ensure fairness and opportunity for Nevadans seeking to provide contract services to the state and local governments.

A number of other lawmakers spoke in support of the legislation, as did speakers in both Las Vegas and Carson City.

A section of the bill that received a lot of favorable testimony would require more reporting regarding race, ethnicity and gender on public works projects let to bid by the state and local governments. The information would be made public and reported to the Legislature.

Assemblywoman Dina Neal, D-North Las Vegas, said the data collection required in the bill could provide a foundation to establish contracting opportunities for minorities and women. Neal is pursuing a related measure that was heard today the Government Affairs Committee.

Audio clips:

Sen. Steven Horsford says the bill goes to the heart of good government and government efficiency:

032511Horsford1 :10 and government efficiency.”

Horsford says every dollar saved is a dollar in new revenue that does not have to be raised:

032511Horsford2 :21 have to raise.”

Horsford says the bill is about saving taxpayer dollars, but also about consumer protections:

032511Horsford3 :15 they are charged.”