Executive Interview Series: 2018 Insights

Executive Interview Series: 2018 Insights

Looking back at our 2018 interviews with procurement leaders and public officials, three themes emerged: challenges impacting the construction industry and public agencies, tips for fostering public/private relationships and advice for project owners considering Job Order Contracting (JOC). Here is what they had to say.

Challenges the Construction Industry and Public Agencies

Tammy Rimes, Executive Director, National Cooperative Procurement Partners:

“Many procurement folks across the country say they are overworked. Yet the same people are saying they expect their workloads to grow in the next year. Something has to give unless they do things differently.  Another challenge is that a good part of the workforce is retiring. They call it the “silver tsunami” and they are taking years of knowledge with them. They’re also taking the old ways of doing things and that’s not necessarily bad. We anticipate a new workforce with a different way of doing things.”

Lynn Sadosky, Director of Public Works, Town of North Haven, Connecticut:

“We have noticed a trend where the public relies more and more on local government and their workers. At the same time, we are asked to do more with less—less employees, less money, less benefits—compared to prior years. Cuts in funding at the state level trickle down to local governments who often cut Public Works Departments first. We’re facing decreasing capital and expense budgets while maintaining the same services or delivering a higher level of services.”

Mark Bailey, Director of Strategic Initiatives, TMG Construction Corporation:

“The challenge that we all hear about is the shortage of the workers in construction. That’s a major one and it’s not anticipated to get any better.  After the Great Recession, many professionals—think project managers and superintendents—left the industry and did not return. In other words, the economy started coming back and they had found other fields to join.”

Francis Hoar, Administrative Director, Miami-Dade County Public Schools:

“Another challenge we have to address is the changing times. Our basic school design concepts from 50 years ago are no longer applicable and do not meet today’s needs for safety and security. That is a challenge because we have to deal with numerous facilities that are 50, 60 and 70 years old that were envisioned to be neighborhood hubs designed to provide open access to the surrounding community. All of a sudden, now we’re looking at how to harden the perimeter of those same facilities and provide robust security for our students and staff.”

Mike Derr, Contracts/Purchasing Officer, Monterey County and President, National Procurement Institute:

“One of the challenges that we’re facing in procurement is technology changes. How do we do business? How do we communicate to our partners? How do we communicate to our customers on a daily basis? For example, here in contracts purchasing, we’ve upgraded our procurement system to where we’re now able to do more online communication through eBidding notifications and automated email notifications we can send to vendors.”

Tips for Fostering Public/Private Relationships

José Alvarez, Chief Operating Officer, Chicago Housing Authority

“This is a people’s business. We deal with human lives every day and we can’t do this alone. We need everybody at the table. Our contractors, our residents – we view them as partners.”

Terry Lusby, Facilities and Fleet Superintendent, Village of Tinley Park, Illinois:

“I like to have a pre-bid meeting where I invite all of the contractors interested in a project to come out of all at the same time. That way, everybody can be at the same place at the same time and hear the same exact things being discussed. This meeting keeps an open, honest playing field. Fairness is key. If you’re upfront and fair, everything else will work itself out.”

Robert Unger, Director of Construction Management, Pennsylvania State System of Higher Education (PASSHE):

“Open and effective communications between every member of the project team, to include the owner, the construction contractors, the design professional, the user or occupant of building, and also your own internal management staff, helps a project succeed. Just keeping communications flowing; letting everybody know what’s going on can help a project run smoothly.”

Advice for Those Considering a JOC Program

Ken Davis, Civil Construction Planner/Estimator, U.S. Army (retired):

“You really need people that know the individual trades. In this day and age of reduced budgets and manpower, that is going to be a tough nut to crack. With reduced expertise at the installation level, it’s valuable to have a partner that can provide turn-key services.”

Jeremy Schwartz, Director of Operations Procurement/CPO, Sourcewell:

“You really have to train [your leadership]. It is never a bad idea to have some local case examples in your back pocket of how other like entities have actually used this model successfully to hit project timelines they would have never otherwise touched, or achieve savings they would have never otherwise expected or avoid serious missteps through some of those talks that are pitched on valued engineering that actually tend to cost you in the long run.”

Theresa Bauccio-Teschlog, Purchasing Manager, City of Everett, Washington:

“If you’re going to implement a new program, ask other agencies how they’re running their programs and borrow ideas. Find out what’s working, what’s not working, how they would improve their processes and figure out what is going to work for your entity. Never start from scratch.”

Steve Fisher, Director of Cooperative Services, BuyBoard® Purchasing Cooperative:

“Start with something that is small and simple to see how it works. You get a feel for it and then grow it from there. It’s like planting a seed. Get that seed in the ground, keep watering it and see where it goes.”

Learn the ins and outs of Job Order Contracting and hear JOC success stories from around the country in a free, four-part video series.