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Date: May 6, 2019

Agencies turning government green

By Energy, Minerals and Natural Resources Secretary Sarah Cottrell Propst and General Services Secretary Ken Ortiz

SANTA FE - New Mexico state government buildings are about to lead the way on renewable energy.

In an exciting collaboration announced just in time for Earth Day, the General Services Department is planning a $32 million project to improve the energy efficiency of state buildings in Santa Fe. The project will lead by example in many ways, but an especially crucial component is the inclusion of state government’s first battery storage for solar power.

The ability to store solar power goes a long way towards expanding this renewable energy source. Equipping our state government buildings with this technology reinforces our commitment to cutting energy costs and embracing new technology. 

This administration is going all in on renewable energy. The Executive Order signed by Governor Michelle Lujan Grisham requires state agencies to curb carbon footprints and this is a great first step to achieving that goal. In addition to equipping buildings with solar power, the GSD project calls for lighting upgrades, improved heating and air conditioning systems, and other energy-efficiency work on 29 buildings. A separate initiative by the department includes buying the first electric vehicles for the government motor pool and installing charging stations in Santa Fe.

The energy efficiency upgrades won’t just reduce our carbon footprint, they’ll also cut down our bills. Our contractor on the project guarantees that New Mexico will see a savings of $1.1 million a year!

This project also highlights the need for state agencies to work together. The General Services Department and the Energy, Minerals and Natural Resources Department worked together to approve contracts and establish just how much savings the state can expect from this renewable energy expansion.

Moving forward, lots of state departments will benefit from having these energy efficiency upgrades installed in their buildings.

It's an exciting time for renewable energy, and our departments hope this example inspires other states to also lead by example when it comes to energy efficiency and renewable energy.

 

Date: April 24, 2019

A letter from General Services Secretary Ken Ortiz

What increases in benefit rates mean for public workers

​​​​​​​SANTA FE - Fellow public employees:

My duties as Secretary of the General Services Department include overseeing the administration of health care and other benefits for employees of the state and participating local governments.

As you may have heard, the rates for medical, dental, vision, basic life and disability coverage, along with administration fees, will increase 5% for both employees and employers on July 1.

Government agencies will continue to pay most of the costs of health care and other benefits for employees. The employer share ranges from 60% to 80%, depending upon a worker’s salary.

I am writing to tell you what the benefit rate increases will mean for your paychecks and to lay out the reasons why such a rate increase occurs. The new rates can be found at www.mybenefitsnm.com

For the average state worker (who earns about $46,000 a year), the rate for health care coverage through an HMO for that employee plus spouse will increase $5.31 per paycheck, or $138.06 per year. The increase per paycheck for family coverage for that employee will be $6.97, or $181.22 annually.

There is some good news: The increase in employee benefit rates will be more than offset by a pay increase effective July 1.

The Legislature and Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham have approved a pay hike of at least 4% for all state workers. Employees earning less than $25,000 a year will get an additional 1% boost in pay.

For the average state worker, a 4% pay increase will mean an additional $1,840 in earnings per year.

There are several factors that can cause increases in employee and employer benefit rates. Here are the major ones:
•    Increased rates charged by insurers.
•    High-dollar medical claims by participating employees.
•    A deficit in the group benefits fund, which is financed primarily by employee and employer contributions.
•    Costs of compliance with the federal Affordable Care Act.
•    New health care services mandated by state law.

I pledge the department will do what it can to minimize further increases in employee costs for health care and other benefits. I am asking you to do the same by staying healthy, which helps to reduce costs for medical care benefits.

Use your free annual preventative medical visit with your primary care doctor and take advantage of the Stay Well Health Center at the Montoya building. The center offers a range of free health care services, including immunizations and lab work, to covered employees and their families.

Other tools offered to covered employees to help improve their health and well-being include:
•    Two free annual preventative dental visits.
•    Dedicated insurance carrier portals containing information on health and wellness. Go to www.mybenefitsnm.com to access the portals. 
•    Free annual preventative vision visits.
•    The Employee Assistance Program, which offers support with three free counseling sessions per issue.

I also encourage you to visit www.mybenefitsnm.com to learn more about the range of preventative benefits offered by our health care providers. Finally, come to the Health & Wellness Fair on Tuesday June 11 from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. at the Montoya building.

Representatives of our health care providers will be at the fair, in addition to exercise and wellness professionals, nutritionists, therapists and others. There also will be free mammograms (by appointment at 888.233.6121) and free blood pressure and cholesterol checks, as well as a blood-drive van.

We’ll also be giving away prizes at the fair, along with free samples and other exciting goodies. My staff and I will also be at the fair if you have questions regarding the increases in benefit rates. Hope to see you there.

 

Date: April 23, 2019

An Op-ed by General Services Secretary Ken Ortiz

Our efforts to keep more contract dollars in NM

SANTA FE - State government purchases more than $6 billion in goods and services each year. The General Services Department, which oversees that purchasing, wants more of that money staying in New Mexico.

The department, under Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham, is launching an initiative to encourage more New Mexico businesses to bid on government contracts and to make it easier for potential vendors to submit bids.

Also, the General Services Department is strengthening its efforts to make all public agencies – state and local – aware of the goods and services available to them through the department’s statewide pricing agreements with vendors.

Negotiating those statewide pricing agreements is one of the many support services that the General Services Department provides to other public agencies. We do our job so others in government can do theirs, whether it’s protecting the environment or finding a home for a foster child.

The General Services Department isn’t going it alone when it comes to keeping more contract dollars in New Mexico. We’re partnering with others to encourage more New Mexico businesses to bid on government contracts for goods and services.

Those partners include WeConnectNM and the Procurement Technical Assistance Centers in New Mexico.

WeConnectNM, a group formed to support and promote New Mexico small businesses, is developing a list of businesses that will be available to state and local public agencies for use in contracting. If registered with the state, the businesses also will receive notice of contract opportunities.

Businesses interested in contracts with the General Services Department can go to www.generalservices.state.nm.us and click on purchasing, then vendor registration.

The federally funded Procurement Technical Assistance Centers across New Mexico help local businesses, including those on Native American land, compete in the government marketplace. The centers are located in Albuquerque, Santa Fe, Las Cruces and Clovis, but center representatives travel to other communities.

The centers are part of the Small Business Development Center Network, which also offers training and consulting services for businesses.

The General Services Department is also working with state agencies to improve their efforts to reach out to New Mexico businesses. The department maintains a list of the chief procurement officer for each government entity, providing a contact person for businesses to market direct to public agencies.

Officials from the General Services Department are meeting with local chambers of commerce to get the word out that it wants to do more business with New Mexico companies. Officials recently attended the New Mexico Public Procurement Association’s 2019 Spring Conference and Vendor Fair, the Small Business Summit in Albuquerque and the National Association of State Procurement Officials 2019 Vendor Exchange.

New Mexico businesses, certified as resident businesses by the state Taxation and Revenue Department, get a 5 percent bidding advantage in seeking government contracts. Certified veteran-owned businesses get a 10 percent advantage

The General Services Department is creating a help desk to assist potential contractors and state and local agencies in navigating the contracting process, to enhance the transparency of the process and to provide timely customer service. A system for electronic signatures on contracts also is being developed to shorten the time in issuing a contract.

Under legislation recently passed by the Legislature and signed by the governor, all state agencies are required to report annually to the General Services Department on contracts awarded to in-state vendors and contracts given to out-of-state firms.

That kind of data has never been routinely collected by government, and GSD plans to publish the information on its website. You’ll be able to see how our efforts to keep more money in New Mexico are paying off.

 

Date: April 16, 2019

General Services Department to begin green building project

First electric vehicles, charging stations planned

SANTA FE- The General Services Department, in partnership with other state agencies, will soon begin a $32 million project to improve the energy efficiency of state buildings in Santa Fe, including installation of solar power and government’s first battery storage of solar power.

GSD also will be purchasing the first electric vehicles for the government motor pool, and it will build charging stations for the vehicles in Santa Fe.

Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham has made building a clean energy future for New Mexico and reducing the state’s impact on climate change a priority of her administration.

The governor, in one of her first executive orders, created an interagency Climate Change Task Force to develop a strategy to address climate change. The executive order also requires state agencies to curb their carbon footprints.

In legislation approved by the Legislature and signed in March by Lujan Grisham, the General Services Department received $20 million to help pay for the $32 million project to improve the energy efficiency of state buildings in Santa Fe.

The department is requesting that the New Mexico Finance Authority issue bonds to finance the remaining $12 million of the green energy project. GSD’s mission includes overseeing improvements to state buildings.

Also, the General Services Department received $1 million to purchase electric motor vehicles for use by state workers and another $1.5 million to create vehicle charging stations at state facilities in Santa Fe County.

“I want to thank Governor Lujan Grisham for initiating the executive order to move New Mexico forward to a clean energy, sustainable future,” GSD Cabinet Secretary Ken Ortiz said. “It is our responsibility to ensure we are incorporating energy-efficiency measures to benefit future generations.”

The bonds to help finance the $32 million green energy project for government buildings would be issued by the New Mexico Finance Authority under the state Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy Bonding Act.

In exchange for the financing, the annual operating budget of the General Services Department would be reduced by an amount equal to 90 percent of the utility savings from the project.

Trane U.S. Inc., a department contractor hired to implement the green energy project, has guaranteed utility savings of $1.1 million a year. Actual savings are expected to exceed $1.4 million a year.

As part of the project, solar power will be installed on 19 state buildings in Santa Fe.

The green energy initiative also includes to improvements to lighting, electric transformers, heating and air conditioning systems, doors and windows.

Before entering into the contract for guaranteed utility savings, the General Services Department needed certification from the Energy, Minerals and Natural Resources Department (EMNRD) that the projected utility savings from the green energy project appeared to be accurate and reasonable.

EMNRD issued that certification April 9. It is the first certification for a government department under a program that makes it possible for state and local public agencies to pay for energy efficiency projects with guaranteed utility savings.

State colleges, cities and counties in New Mexico have implemented more than $130 million in energy projects under the program in the last four years, according to EMNRD.

“Installing solar power on government buildings and driving electric vehicles is an excellent way to promote sustainability while leading by example,” said Energy, Minerals and Natural Resources Department Cabinet Secretary Sarah Cottrell Propst. “The green energy initiative will go a long way in making our government facilities more energy efficient and saving our state money. It’s a win-win that has the full support of EMNRD.”

The energy efficiency work on state buildings is expected to begin within the next few months.

 

The General Services Department is the support agency for state government, providing facility management, printing services, procurement, public employee health and other benefits, liability coverage for public agencies and transportation services.