39th Mid-Winter Conference Wrap-Up

midwinter photoThe 39th Annual Mid-Winter Conference was a great success. Attendees enjoyed a variety of topics and of course, outstanding networking opportunities.

Steven O’Shields, TSABAA Vice-President, welcomed attendees and turned over the program to emcee Randy Nesbitt.

The conference opened with Security Requirements from Nancy Rainosek with the Department of Information Resources (DIR). This presentation was very timely for attendees due to the ongoing attacks on computer systems. Nancy told the audience that DIR blocks over a billion hacking attempts daily. Nancy was followed by Hershel Becker, also with DIR, on purchasing computer equipment, software equipment or services through the DIR contracts. Hershel guided us through the process and how DIR can assist agencies in procuring goods and services more quickly and easily than doing it on our own.

The audience then enjoyed a presentation from Bon Wier and Matthew Berry with the Texas Public Finance Authority on the Master Lease Purchase Program (MLPP). Bon and Matt taught our attendees about the uses of MLPP and the significant savings that can be realized through participation. 39th 2Many state agencies may not be aware of what MLPP is and how they can utilize it to assist them in funding. Bon and Matthew helped us better understand and how it can help the agencies.

Challenges to hire and retain qualified staff are ongoing and Mariana Vega from the Texas Workforce Commission updated the audience by providing a comprehensive overview of statewide staffing information. Mariana’s information guided us through the employment statistics and that showed we are all in the same position, regardless of our agency and that we can rely on each other to help solve retention issues.

The audience had now been brought up-to-speed on our struggles in hiring and retaining staff. Following Mariana’s presentation, the audience was provided with ways to retain employees from Cherylann Campbell with CPS/HR Consulting. Cherylann spoke about how to determine what staff thinks and how to take that information and use it to create better working environments to retain staff. All agencies struggle to retain staff when competing with other agencies and the private sector. Cherylann’s talk with us provided insight on methods to incentivize staff to stay.
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As the landscape of agencies’ business changes daily, but resources don’t, we are required to think creatively to serve our customers. The use of innovation is often the only way to get our jobs done and stay within our budgets. Also, our customers expect us to be innovative and keep up with the private sector and we must change our way of doing business to do so. Danielle Klayman with Accenture and Randy Nesbitt from the Texas Department of Licensing and Regulation presented showing attendees five requirements for innovation: collaboration, sharing, closing, allies and safe-to-fail experiments.

The first day of the conference closed with a presentation about human trafficking from Todd Latiolais with the Governor’s Office. This was not necessarily the standard TSABAA topic, but affects all Texans. The discussion provided insight on how to identify trafficking and what the state is doing to combat this statewide problem. Todd showed us how each person can help and understand our role as citizens in the effort to wipe out human trafficking in Texas.

Day two of the conference allowed attendees a better understanding of how to save significant resources through the use of the state and federal surplus property program. Megan Sims from the Texas Facilities Commission showed us the method and process to donate or purchase property and examples of the items that are available. Megan showed numerous examples of high cost items that agencies, cities and counties were able to take advantage of with this program and make purchases their organizations might not otherwise be make.

Large projects and contracting continues to be a challenge for state agencies. Jennifer Holmes with Accenture and Erika Kemp with the Texas Department of Transportation guided the audience through the Agile process. The standard process of creating a project has been creating a full project plan without great ability to change. The Agile process provides a shift in approach. Specifically, it of breaks up the full project into smaller pilot projects that keep flexibility to make changes quickly to affect the pilot projects and avoid the pitfalls of a changing landscape. This allows agility and easy modifications to a project prior to final implementation, i.e., not staying the course if the course will not meet needs. Needs likely change during the process and the Agile process recognizes this issue.

Amy Hazelett with the Comptroller of Public Accounts closed out the conference with a very timely presentation on the new Contracting Guide. Her information was applicable to all agencies and was extremely useful in discussing what knowledge is provided in the guide and how to use that knowledge. Amy provided great information including the ability for the audience to ask questions directly of the Comptroller’s Office.

TSABAA thanks all of the presenters for their time and outstanding information provided during the conference.

We hope you enjoyed the conference and will join us at the 50th Annual Summer Conference this July. More information will be available soon on the TSABAA website.

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About the Author

Carla James

Carla is the Deputy Executive Director for the Texas Department of Licensing and Regulation

Carla James can be contacted at: carla.james@tdlr.texas.gov.