state employees

State officials give final approval to five-year outsourcing contract with JLL

News release from Department of General Services

The State of Tennessee has executed a five-year contract with Jones Lang LaSalle (JLL) to provide statewide facilities management services.  The contract is effective today (May 26, 2017).

JLL was selected following a two-year multi-step procurement process led by the state’s Central Procurement Office that included representatives from higher education, general government and the legislature.

As we have consistently said, the contract will protect the livelihoods of current state facilities management employees, and is another tool for state departments and institutions to use to keep their expenses low, reducing the need for cost and tuition increases.

To view the contract, (go HERE.)

 Contract Background and Highlights

 ·         The State of Tennessee began to look at opportunities in professional facilities management services after studying results from 10 million square feet of state-owned office buildings currently under a similar arrangement in which taxpayer savings of about $26 million were achieved over three years. An additional third-party inspection of the cost analysis upheld forecasted savings if the program were expanded to more state buildings.

·         Participation by state agencies and institutions is voluntary.

·         The contract includes strict provisions that JLL will retain all current state facilities employees (provided they pass a background check and drug screening).

·         JLL will provide compensation equalization for every employee that is transitioned to ensure that they are made whole at the time of transition.

·         Tennessee’s facilities management program implemented in 2013 is considered innovative nationally, receiving awards from the National Association of State Procurement Officials (NASPO) in 2014 and from the National Association of State Chief Administrators (NASCA) in 2015.

Today the state is also announcing Charles Burkett as the contract governance executive.  A Memphis native, Burkett is a 41-year veteran of the financial services/ banking industry, and most recently a member of the University of Memphis leadership team serving as advisor to the president.  In his role at the university, Burkett was responsible for a range of strategic initiatives including implementation of quality improvement measurements of student satisfaction and managing residence life and dining.

In his new contract governance role, he will be responsible for ensuring the overall oversight of the statewide contract to ensure best service across all stakeholders, and for serving as the main point of contact for interested entities that would like to request a quote for service.

Burkett is a former member of the state’s FM Steering Committee, and will continue to serve as a liaison between the statewide contract with JLL and committee members, which will transition in name to Board of Advisors. Representatives on this advisory committee are from higher education and general government leadership.

Note/UPDATE: The Nashville Post reports Burkett will be paid $95 per hour under a contract, which would be $197,600 for a full year of 40-hour week – more than $20,000 more than his salary at the University of Memphis. Further:

He (Burkett) also was a member of the Facilities Management Steering Committee, which oversaw the secretive two-year process that resulted in JLL’s contract. Roberson said the steering committee will transition to a “Board of Advisors” overseeing the contract.

Roberson said the membership of the new board of advisors could be shaken up, but as it currently stands it consists of the head of the Department of Customer Focused Government, Terry Cowles (salary: $150,000); Bob Oglesby, the commissioner of the Department of General Services (salary: $159,996); Mike Perry, the head of procurement in General Services (salary: $147,900); Larry Martin, the commissioner of the Department of Finance and Administration (salary: $190,260); Brock Hill, a deputy commissioner of the Department of Environment & Conservation (salary: $146,532); Russ Deaton, the deputy executive director of the Tennessee Higher Education Commission (salary: $155,004); Rick Nicholson, the budget analysis director for the Senate (salary: $110,220); and David Miller, the CFO of the UT system (salary: $310,000). TBR has not had a member on the committee since Warren Nichols left for a new job at the beginning of the year but is expected to appoint someone soon.

TSEA backs underdog Democrat in House District 95 special election

News release from Tennessee State Employees Association

NASHVILLE – The Tennessee Employees Action Movement endorses Julie Byrd Ashworth, D-Collierville, for House District 95.

“Working to elect candidates who support state employees is an important goal for TEAM-PAC, which is why we are happy to endorse Julie Byrd Ashworth for House District 95,” TEAM-PAC Administrative Committee Chair Patricia Bowman said.

“Ms. Ashworth’s experience as a trail lawyer will be an asset on Capitol Hill in Nashville as she advocates for state employees,” TSEA Executive Director Randy Stamps said. “Our local state employees were impressed with her knowledge of the issues affecting state employees.”

Note: Ashworth won the Democratic nomination in the House District 95 special election, called after the resignation of Republican Rep. Mark Lovell after he was accused of sexual harassment, without a primary opponent. The Republican nominee, businessman and school board member Kevin Vaughan, defeated six opponents in the heavily Republican district. The general election is June 15. TSEA Executive Director Stamps, quoted in the release, is a former Republican state representative and former political director of the Tennessee Republican Party.

Haslam renews defense of outsourcing as most legislators seek delay

A majority of both House and Senate members have now asked that Gov. Bill Haslam’s administration delay implementation of privatization plans for the state’s higher education institutions. But the governor has renewed his defense of the plan, indicating he’s ready to push ahead.

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New outsourcing contract gives JLL a bonus if cost-cutting exceeds expectations

Jones Lang LaSalle’s new contract potentially covers work now performed by about 3,000 state employees who are supposed to keep their positions though the pact gives the company a financial incentive to cut costs as much as possible, reports the Nashville Post.

The contract doesn’t specify an actual number the state will be paying JLL to pay other subcontractors for custodial, landscaping and maintenance work at state universities and agencies across Tennessee, as that will depend on how many campuses opt in or out of the contract. And how much JLL will get paid will also depend on the company meeting benchmark goals and customer satisfaction metrics.

However, the contract also includes a clause that awards JLL 10 percent of any cost savings above and beyond its projected baseline savings in the first year. After that, the percentage decreases each year by one percent, down to 1 percent of savings awards in year 10 of the contract. (The five-year contract has the option of being expanded another five years before the state would have to rebid it.)

…”That’s to reduce operational costs. If you look, it specifically prohibits a reduction in force, period. They cannot reduce the force,” said Mike Perry, the state’s chief procurement officer, during a press conference Thursday.

Yet the terms of the contract include multiple loopholes as to who can be considered “transition employees” and continue on with the subcontractors JLL will hire. Employees must have worked for the state for over 6 months at 30 hours a week or more and be considered to “provide services selected to be performed by the Contractor at a minimum of” 51 percent of their job duties. They must pass whatever background checks JLL deems necessary, along with a drug test. Currently the state does not require either for the majority of its positions.

…Even if employees do pass all the required checks, there’s still no guarantee they’ll be offered the same job, at the same campus. The contract only requires a position be offered in a 50 mile radius. Rehired employees are supposed to be given equitable compensation, but in JLL’s own bid proposal, it admits that an employee with a family of four would have their health insurance premiums double and the out-of-pocket max increase by $2,150. Meanwhile, paid time off will decrease. (A single employee’s health insurance costs will go down, the proposal says.) An employee would ostensibly be paid more to make up for the higher health insurance costs and lack of vacation time, but Perry admitted he had no idea how this would work in practice as far as taxes go.

Note: The post has a copy of the contract posted HERE.

Three guards injured in TN prison inmate uprising

Three corrections officers were injured, including one held hostage for about three hours, in a Sunday inmate uprising at Turney Center state prison, located about 60 miles west of Nashville in Hickman County.

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Three state correction officer suicides reported in one month

Three officers with the Tennessee Department of Correction have died by suicide in just this past month, according to an internal memo sent to employees and reported by the Nashville Scene.

 

The department is not releasing the names of the individuals “out of respect and deference to the families,” according to TDOC spokesperson Alison Randgaard.

“We are devastated by the loss of our colleagues which is reflected in Commissioner [Tony] Parker’s letter to staff,” Randgaard wrote in an email.

…In the memo sent Wednesday from Parker, he urges employees to take an account of their personal stress level. The department has struggled in recent years to fully staff its prisons, causing safety issues. It faced an exodus of correctional officers two years ago after drastically changing scheduling.

TN Supremes: Judges can fire employees at will

News release from Administrative Office of the Courts

Nashville, Tenn. – The Tennessee Supreme Court has ruled that the position of trial judge secretarial assistant is subject to the employment-at-will doctrine that generally applies in Tennessee.  The Court’s holding means that either the trial judge or the person employed in the secretarial assistant position may terminate the employment relationship at any time during the trial judge’s tenure.  If the employment relationship is not terminated earlier, then the employment relationship ends automatically when the trial judge’s tenure ends.

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Bill to block state park privatization moving in House & Senate

Republican-controlled committees of both the House and Senate have approved a Democrat-sponsored bill that would block new privatization efforts at Tennessee state parks.

Key sentence in the bill (SB1110/HB1208), sponsored by House Minority Leader Craig Fitzhugh, D-Ripley, and Sen. Sara Kyle, D-Memphis:

“The management, operation, and preservation of state parks, including the management, operation, and preservation of any buildings, facilities, structures, or improvements upon state park property must not be the subject of any private contract or otherwise outsourced to any private company or individual.”

It doesn’t apply to contracts in place before July 1, 2017. But Fitzhugh says that existing contracts coming up for renewal after that date could be subject to the prohibition when they expire and come up for renewal.

In the Senate Energy, Agriculture and Natural Resources Committee, Kyle’s bill was approved quickly Monday without discussion  – Chairman Steve Southerland seconded the motion for passage — on a vote of 7-0-1. Sen. Delores Gresham, R-Somerville, abstained.

On Wednesday, the House Agriculture and Natural Resources Committee approved the bill on voice vote with no apparent opposition after a short discussion, including Fitzhugh declaring privatization of parks “is something the people do not want” and there is a danger of “overpricing” park visits under current plans so that average Tennesseans cannot afford them “when we try to make a profit out of state parks.”

At Fall Creek Falls State Park, current plans call for demolishing the present Inn, building a new one at a state cost of $22 million, then turning operations over to a private company with anticipation that the average cost of a room would be $151 per night, compared to $75 at the existing Inn.

Near unanimous Republican support for a Democrat-sponsored bill even remotely controversial is an oddity. But it remains to be seen whether the committee votes are a symbolic gesture that will be scuttled later in the process, a genuine defiance of the governor’s plans or something in between.

Note: See also Sam Stockard’s report following Senate committee approval, but prior to the House sub’s vote. The article notes that current Haslam administration plans call for getting a contract signed for the Fall Creek Falls private operations in May, which could mean the deal gets included in the grandfather clause for contracts in place by July 1.

Fall Creek Falls Park privitization to proceed with revised oversight

The State Building Commission will now have firmer control over building-related aspects of Republican Gov. Bill Haslam’s plans for outsourcing Fall Creek Falls State Park’s operations under amended rules for bidders approved on Thursday, reports the Times-Free Press.

But Treasurer David Lillard, a commission member, made it clear during the commission’s executive subcommittee meeting that the panel’s oversight jurisdiction does not extend to the request for proposals’ other major area: The outsourcing of hospitality functions at the popular Upper Cumberland Plateau park in Van Buren and Bledsoe counties.

Statutorily, those are “not within the Building Commission’s purview,” Lillard said, noting the excluded list includes current workers’ continued employment, pay and benefits in operational areas ranging from the park inn, restaurant and convention center to the golf course and gift shop.

But the SBC will retain strict oversight within provisions of the request for proposals over the park’s chosen vendor, who will be called upon to spend $22 million in taxpayer money to tear down the existing inn and rebuild it.

Members unanimously approved the tighter oversight in efforts to resolve a revolt by professional Tennessee-based architects and engineers.

…Critics see the revised request for proposals as the template for renewed administration efforts. Haslam’s proposed budget calls for new capital expenditures at several other parks.

Rep. John Ray Clemmons, D-Nashville, an outsourcing critic, said the amended request for proposals provides “more legislative oversight” over the park’s demolition and construction.

Note: The TDEC press release is below.

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Haslam budget laying groundwork for state park privatization beyond Fall Creek Falls?

Gov. Bill Haslam’s proposed 2017-18 budget includes an unprecedented $58.8 million in capital spending at state parks across Tennessee, leading to speculation that the administration has plans for privatization at three state park that get most of the money, reports the Times-Free Press.

That would follow the pattern set earlier when the 2016-2017  Haslam budget included major funding for Fall Creek Falls state park. Only months after the budget was adopted did the administration announce that the park’s operations would be privatized after the state spends money building a new park inn and other improvements.

“At this time, there are no active plans in place” in regards to further privatization efforts at those three parks, Paris Landing, Pickwick Landing and Henry Horton, said a Tennessee Department of Environment and Conservation spokesperson in an email Friday.

Elected leaders from those park areas polled this week — all in Middle or West Tennessee — also said they have not been told if the state plans to pursue privatization at their parks. But each were familiar with the concept after a 2015 attempt to outsource hospitality operations at 11 state parks that failed because of the facilities’ poor conditions.

…(State Sen. John) Stevens’ district includes Henry County’s Paris Landing State Park, which is set to receive $23.07 million for the demolition of its inn and construction of a new inn that would include conference space and a restaurant.

He said he supports rebuilding the inn and is thankful for the administration’s proposed investment, adding that locals are interested in having input in the facility’s design.

“I have spoken to our local chamber and there is support in the community for the new building coupled with concern, privatization being one,” Stevens said.

…Marshall County’s Henry Horton State Park would receive $10.05 million under the proposed budget for the demolition of the inn, visitor center, and restaurant there. The money would also pay for the construction of a new visitor center and restaurant, but not another inn.

…An inn would remain part of Pickwick Landing State Park in Hardin County under the proposed budget. Nearly $12 million would be spent to renovate the current facility, which includes a conference center and restaurant.

ABOUT THIS BLOG

Former Knoxville News Sentinel capitol bureau chief Tom Humphrey writes about Tennessee politics, government, and legislative news.

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