Valley Schools Holds 5th Annual Conference

26 Oct

Valley Schools Management Group (VSMG) is a group purchasing cooperative organization that saves its members millions per year in insurance, workers’ compensation and employee benefits costs.  It was created in 1987 and has expanded into all three areas over time.  This is the fifth consecutive year that the VSMG, run by Tom Boone, has held an annual conference to inform its members on the latest in insurance, workers’ compensation and employee benefits laws, regulations and opportunities for savings.  VSMG is truly a model for transparency and keeping their membership informed and up to date on all issues.

This year, Andrea Billings, Administrator for the Valley Schools Employee Benefits Trust (VSEBT) was one of the speakers, discussing the latest in health care and other benefits for tens of thousands of members in the VSEBT.

Rebecca McGonigle of VSEBT, Dr. Steven Masley, and Andrea Billings of VSEBT

In the past, the conference has featured guest speakers including Congressman John Shadegg, Dr. Andrew Weil the wellness guru, and Dr. Nick Yphantides, author of My Big Fat Greek Diet.  This year the featured speaker was Dr. Steven Masley, author of Ten Years Younger.


Have you wondered, How Old Are You, Really?  You know what’s written on your birth certificate, but as you’re aware your chronological age may not match your biological age.  you are invited to hear a presentation by Steven Masley, M.D., a physician whose work has been featured on the Discovery Channel, the Today Show, and over 200 media interviews. His program, Ten Years Younger is scientifically proven to work, with results published in multiple peer reviewed medical journals.

The Ten Years Younger Program is designed to combat the roots of accelerated aging. Poor nutrition, toxins in the environment, stress, and exposure to free radicals all make us old before our time, along with a little-known aging culprit: low- and no-carb diets.

“Dr. Masley shows us how we can take control of the aging process. Follow this simple ten-week plan, and you’ll find yourself getting younger, day by day.”
– Mehmet Oz, M.D.

Steven Masley, M.D. is a board and fellow certified family physician and nutritionist, author, speaker, and award-winning patient educator. His research focuses on the impact of lifestyle choices on aging, cardiovascular disease, diabetes, osteoporosis, cognitive function, menopause, and weight control. His passion is empowering people to achieve optimal health through comprehensive medical assessments and lifestyle changes.

Senior staff from the Paradise Valley Unified School District study the presentations.

Attendees went through a grueling time of back-to-back presentations, but once again very much appreciated the in depth information.  More organizations need to bring in their senior clients and membership to keep them informed and inspired like the Valley Schools Management Group (VSMG) does regularly.

Left to right, Tom Boone, Tim O’Brien, Skip Brown, Jim Migliorino and Ted Carpenter

Tom Boone, Chairman and CEO of VSMG, Opens up the Conference



Arizona NIGP Adopts Cooperative Contract Criteria

22 Oct

Arizona NIGP Adopts Cooperative Contract Criteria

They have now received national recognition for this new way of evaluating cooperative purchasing in government settings.

reposted from:

National Institute of Governmental Purchasing (NIGP)

New Form Justifies Use of Cooperative Contract

The Arizona Capitol Chapter of NIGP recently adopted a new form to help school districts, cities, towns, counties and other municipalities justify the use of a particular cooperative contract. The Justification for Utilizing a Cooperative Contract was reviewed by the Cooperative Committee of the Arizona Capitol Chapter of NIGP with the input from a host of public procurement professionals across the State. The intent is that the document be used as a template starting point and edited as appropriate by the agency. This form can supplement due diligence documentation to further document the reasons for using a cooperative contract versus going out to bid independently.

The following questions and issues are addressed in the template document:

  1. Is there a Cooperative Purchase Agreement allowing use of the contract?
  2. Was the procurement done by a Public Procurement Unit?
  3. Do the terms, conditions and scope of work/specifications meet the need?
  4. If no, are the terms, conditions and scope of work/specifications negotiable?
  5. Does the cooperative contract provide the most advantageous solution? Why?
  6. Is the contract in effect and in force for all proposed purchases?
  7. Will any and all purchases comply with the terms and prices in the contract?
  8. Will volume pricing advantages be applied to purchases?
  9. Are there any fees associated with use of the contract? Are they reasonable and justified?
  10. Were local and regional vendors offered the opportunity to compete for the contracts?
  11. Did the cooperative or lead agency have the expertise, reputation and history of quality contracting for the good or service being procured?
  12. Was past experience with the cooperative or lead agency acceptable?
  13. Is it a unique purchase that is better serviced under another contract?
  14. Is the item urgently needed?
  15. What is the age of the contract? How many years is it into its contract term?

For your reference, attached is the template form, “Justification for Utilizing a Cooperative Contract.”

For more information about the form and its creation, contact:

Michelle Hamilton is the Director of Purchasing for Mesa Public Schools, serves on the AASBO Executive Board and may be reached by email at

Bill Munch is the Executive Director of Procurement Compliance, Outreach and Education with Valley Schools Management Group and may be reached by email at

Left to Right – Matt Donaghue, Brenda Carlson, of First Investors, Bill Munch of the Valley Schools Management Group (VSMG) and Dennis Snoozy with First Investors.

Special thanks to the Arizona Capitol Chapter of NIGP for sharing this resource with all NIGP members!

Source: Strategic Sourceror, Tuesday, October 9, 2012

Successful Project Examples

19 Oct

Successful Project Examples

This panel featured two successful projects in Oregon, one a retro-fit project and one a new construction project.  The Enterprise School is replacing a heating oil boiler to a biomass boiler that will utilize waste from a community wood products manufacturing facility.  The Harney County District Hospital installed a wood pellet boiler in the design of their new facility.

Download the presentations from the workshop to learn more about each project!


Biomass Boiler and Silo - Harney Co.

Biomass Boiler and Silo – Harney County, OregonThe Enterprise School Project 

Video Coming Soon!

Funding Renewable Projects Through Existing Budgets

Cam Hamilton – The McKinstry Group

Also check out theEnterprise Project Fact Page!


Harney County District Hospital Project

Wood Pellet Boiler Heating System

Jim Bishop – CEO

Also check out the Harney County Hospital Project Fact Page!


NASA Open Innovation Projects

14 Oct

Open Innovation Projects

NASA Challenges Through Open Innovation

this signifies a fact sheet with 'transparency.'
transparency |
this signifies a fact sheet with 'participation.'
participation |
This signifies a fact sheet with 'collaboration'.

The NASA Open Innovation projects develop challenges that seek innovative solutions to research and technology problems that impact human health and performance in short and long duration human spaceflight. The challenges are offered through organizations (InnoCentive and that offer challenges to a national and international community of potential solvers. A third pilot project was established with TopCoder and Harvard Business School to evaluate an open source code competition. These are pilot projects to determine the effectiveness of open innovation in solving NASA research and technology problems.


NASA Innovation Pavilion on InnoCentive index?pavilionName=NASA

NASA Logo and Open Innovation Text
NASA partnered with InnoCentive, Inc. to provide the public with the opportunity to solve difficult problems facing the U.S. space program in human health and performance. Solutions to the challenges on the NASA Innovation Pavilion will not only benefit space exploration, but may also further the development of commercial products and services in other industries. The first three challenges posted for one of the pilot projects have attracted more than 1,100 potential solvers across 64 countries. These challenges are currently undergoing evaluation for possible winning solutions. As an example, the challenge for a compact exercise device drew over 100 submissions that are undergoing evaluation.


The NASA Space Life Sciences developed a strategy in 2007 to pursue external alliances to establish a balanced portfolio of research and technology solutions for human health and performance during human space flight. We sought expertise from academia in mapping research and technology needs or gaps to the best possible collaborative strategy. One strategy that clearly emerged was the use of open innovation service providers to seek solutions to challenges external to NASA.

Open innovation was defined by Henry Chesbrough, a professor and executive director at the Center for Open Innovation at UC Berkeley, as “a paradigm that assumes that firms can and should use external ideas as well as internal ideas, and internal and external paths to market, as the firms look to advance their technology.” This open innovation strategy requires NASA to refine problems in the research and technology portfolio into challenge statements that can be addressed by a wide variety of disciplines and technical expertise external to NASA. In this way, NASA seeks to obtain innovative technology, research, service, and software code solutions through the extended community. Each pilot project has a different means of seeking and rewarding winning solutions.

We have created the NASA Innovation Pavilion on the InnoCentive open innovation platform, which, to date, has had four challenges (three from Johnson Space Center and one from Langley Research Center). In 2009, we developed an open source competition on the TopCoder community resulting in the writing of 3,500 lines of code and drew more than 1,800 entrants for the posted NASA challenge. These results are currently undergoing evaluation.

Later in 2010, we will have completed the pilot projects and will have recommendations for the further use of open innovation challenges to solve research and technology problems for NASA. These recommendations will evaluate the yield of solutions obtained versus the costs of using these open innovation tools (costs may include the actual service cost, time for personnel to be engaged in the process, training time, etc). These recommendations could then include useful metrics for the further use and evaluation of these tools. Potential solutions are provided to the government through open innovation service providers using a variety of business models, but all cost much less than traditional methods of seeking research and technology solutions. A second value to this approach is the rapid development, posting and solution time of weeks for finding potential solutions, instead of months or years required using more traditional means.

How This Fits into Open Government

In order to use open innovation pilot projects, NASA must be transparent in articulating a current challenge for human spaceflight and other challenges facing NASA. These models are inherently participatory as large and diverse communities of solvers around the world may pose a potential solution to a challenge. Depending on the type of pilot project, solvers may collaborate on a solution or establish a partnership with NASA to develop the proposed deliverable. These pilot projects greatly diversify the number of potential external collaborators for NASA.

Open Government Goals

  • Three Months
    • Identify second round of challenges for two of the pilot projects and lessons learned developed from the first round.
      v1.5 Status Update: The first round of challenges has completed. The second round have been identified and posted on the NASA InnoCentive Pavilion.
  • Six Months
    • Execute additional challenges both internal to NASA and externally based on the results of the first pilot projects.
      v1.5 Status Update: The first round of challenges has completed. The second round have been identified and posted on the NASA InnoCentive Pavillion.
  • One Year
    • Develop a contract mechanism to permit open innovation models to be used by all NASA centers across a wide variety of challenges and disciplines.
    • Develop a “how to” guide for the future use of open innovation models within government.
  • Two Years
    • Establish open innovation services as a mechanism for problem solving within NASA.
    • Develop a “system of innovation” that will determine the best application of existing and new tools to solving NASA problems. This system could be captured in contracts, processes, or policy in the future.

Actual Energy Savings Examples at Arizona Schools

12 Oct

Here are some actual examples of savings at Arizona schools brought about through utility reduction.  They were part of a project approved by Jim Migliorino, Associate Superintendent of Business Services at the Deer Valley Unified School District (DVUSD).  The team conducting the utility study and reduction was Tim O’Brien and John Brunelle at the Valley Schools Insurance Trust (VSIT).

Deer Valley USD September 4, 2012
17624 N 31st Ave
Sunrise Elementary
Existing Proposed
Energy Consumption (kWh): 416151 163100
Demand Consumption (kW): 127.17 65.23
Utility Rate ($/kWh): 0.10 0.10
System electric cost: $41,615.08 $16,310.00
Maintenance cost/yr.: $58.60 $6.98
* Maint. Savings is not included in ROI.(for information only)
Kilowatt hours Saved (kWh) 253,051
Kilowatts Saved (kW) 61.9
Project Total: $95,921.06
Estimated Taxes (6.045%): $5,798.43
Electric (Saved): $25,305.09
Demand (Saved): $5,737.77
Estimated APS Rebate $34,837.14
Estimated Energize Phoenix Rebate $0.00
Total First Year (Savings): $65,880.00
Simple Payback (Years): 2.2
Return on Investment: 65%
Investment: $66,882.35

Independently Verified by:

Lisa Ann Rosenstock

Project Manager
602-437-2700 x111
Cell: 480-255-4477
Fax: 480-962-4008
After Hours Emergency: 602-578-3651


Hillcrest Middle School September 4, 2012
22833 N 71 Ave , Glendale
Existing Proposed
Energy Consumption (kWh): 508168 196890
Demand Consumption (kW): 183.32 89.10
Utility Rate ($/kWh): $0.09 $0.09
System electric cost: $45,735.13 $17,720.07
Maintenance cost/yr.: $1,401.67 $134.02
Kilowatt hours Saved (kWh) 311,278
Kilowatts Saved (kW) 94.2
Investment: $125,081.13
Electric (Saved): $28,015.06
Demand (Saved): $8,728.40
APS Rebate $47,561.98
Total First Year (Savings): $84,305.44
Simple Payback (Years): 2.1
Return on Investment: 67%

Independently verified by”

Lisa Ann Rosenstock

Project Manager
602-437-2700 x111
Cell: 480-255-4477
Fax: 480-962-4008
After Hours Emergency: 602-578-3651

Congratulations for saving money on utilities, actually proving those savings, and preserving funds for our kids in the classroom!

Deer Valley Wins Arizona Quality Alliance Showcase in Excellence Award for 2011

5 Oct

The Deer Valley Unified School District through a partnership with the Valley Schools Management Group (VSMG) have been awarded the Arizona Quality Alliance Showcase in Excellence Award for 2011.  This recognition is well earned for their outstanding projects in utility redesign and management.  Jim Migliorino, Associate Superintendent for Fiscal Services at the Deer Valley Unified School District (DVUSD) spearheaded this project and brought in support from VSMG.  The multi-year project has been amazingly successful.







Jim Migliorino, Associate Superintendent DVUSD

In addition, Tim O’Brien CEM, CEA, Director of Utility Management Programs for Valley Schools and John Brunelle of Valley Schools have presented this information in conjunction with the Malcolm Baldridge Foundation for consideration for that national award, appearing on the programs for the Regional Baldridge Conferences.  You can see the information on their presentation here, followed by the conference detail for the upcoming October 11, 2012 presentation at the next link.

The project was started to earn Energy Star ratings for all DVUSD schools and facilities, starting as a pilot program and extending from there into solar installations and credits as well.  Here is an example of the utility complexity at a high school:


The results of this multi-year project are clear.  Here are the savings in percentages each year.  Total savings to DVUSD already exceed $1 million.

•2008 to 2009 → reduction of kWh of 7.9%
•2009 to 2010 → reduction of kWh of 7.6%
•2010 to 2011 → reduction of kWh of 10.92%
•2011 to 2012 → reduction of kWh of 7.52%
•Largest recipient of utility company energy rebates (APS Solutions for Business)
•6+ megawattage of solar installations
DVUSD is to be congratulated on their outstanding work.  If you want to see more details, please click on the above links and attend the October 11, 2012 conference.

Deer Valley High School Solar Panels




Public Procurement – Not So Easy – Rarely Cheap

28 Sep

I have worked for many years in various capacities both in the federal, state and local governments as well as in the private sector.  Now retired, I can reflect on my procurement experiences with some degree of latitude not offered while one is still employed and must be careful what they say.  Both the private sector and the public sector want the same things with a procurement – high quality services, timeliness and low costs.  However, the approaches vary widely.

In the private sector as a CEO or CFO I would often seek out an industry leader, many times one I had worked with in the past.  Instead of spending time looking around, I would go to someone I knew would do the job right and with whom I had a relationship.  If I could get a good price I would stop looking.  If their price seemed high, I would ask around.  Often, I would end back up in the first place, having found their price was not so high after all.  Jumping vendors once in awhile kept your friends “honest” on their prices.  They want to make a profit just like you, but if you allow them to be complacent, or don’t occasionally look around, the quality and timeliness can drop and the price can go higher.  You don’t want to be taken for granted, especially if you are a small client for them.

On the other hand, constantly jumping around establishes no relationships, and if it ain’t broken why fix it.  Lasting vendor relationships over ten to twenty years can build real trust and respect.  Resolving complex issues becomes a single phone call and a handshake.  Each party trusts the other to do right by them.  In the private sector this leads to a lot of doing business with people you know, or with those your friends know.  It is harder to “break-in” to an established industry unless price is the only driver.  In the public sector, this way of doing business is not only not accepted, but sometimes a crime.

The public sector often assumes that all procurement bodies are corrupt and can be bribed by a meal at a nice restaurant or a sporting event.  At my consulting firm, I spent over $10,000 per year on meals and entertainment with clients.  It was how you got to know each other.  It was considered “bad form” to bring up anything business related.  It was about establishing relationships and trust, not about sales.  In the public sector, that same behavior is viewed as trying to influence future contracts.

Starting with that premise, procurement laws are set up to provide statutes and rules that eliminate the ability of anyone to be corrupt.  This is of course impossible.  People cannot accept gifts, they cannot discuss contract needs unless every submits questions and everyone gets the same answers, they have to do formal bid processes, set up panels, involve people who are impartial (which often means they know nothing of the project).  Staying with the same vendor is often viewed as corruption.  “This vendor has won every bid for ten years in a row!”  Is viewed as some sort of empirical proof that there is corruption, not that the firm could be the best and lowest priced.

The procurement code can even pre-set criteria such as cost, quality, and other measures in formats that don’t fit well with the project.  A colleague in private sector big constructions, stadiums, civic centers, etc. told me that their company would lose money on every bid.  They make all their profits off change orders and overrides because the procurement folks did not anticipate issues.  So, they go for low price, then get a 50% overrun to do the job right.  They told me it was industry practice.

When I was CFO for a major state agency, we had a line item appropriation for $1.9 million.  No matter who bid, they bid within $100,000 of that amount.  Why?  That is the amount we had.  I could have bid for them to write one letter for me, or to work for an entire year with five people – $1.9 million would be the bid.  I am not suggesting that nepotism, fraud, corruption or other bad behavior be tolerated, quite the opposite.  I am just pointing out that the very laws intended to get good pricing often lead to substandard services and higher pricing.

What to Do?  First, if you are in any sector, think about the types of procurement available to you – project management bid, single source, emergency bid, multiple RFP, RFI, what tools will work best for your project.  Then, bring in an expert with a history of skill in both following ALL the laws, AND with getting good vendors and pricing.  These are rare individuals indeed.

Arizona Rural Schools Association Conference that Bill Munch provided training. From the left, Bill Munch, Superintendent for Palo Verde, Robin Berry and Executive Director, Bill Blong.

An Example – Recently, the Valley Schools Management Group (VSMG) a group purchasing organization serving the public sector, hired Bill Munch to work on procurement issues.

Bill Munch graduated from Arizona State University in 1988 with a Bachelor of Arts in Purchasing and Materials Management.  He has received certification as a Certified Purchasing Manager (C.P.M.) and Certified Professional Public Buyer (CPPB).  He was the first President of the Greater Phoenix Purchasing Consortium of Schools (GPPCS), a purchasing cooperative comprised of over fifty school districts in Arizona.  He has also served as Vice President and is currently Membership Officer of GPPCS.  He has dedicated his entire career to the topic of public procurement and has a flawless record.

Bill currently serves on the Arizona Association of School Business Officials (AASBO) Board of Directors as Treasurer and is a certified Arizona Community College Instructor that regularly teaches the AASBO 4-Day Purchasing Classes and “Purchasing for Users”.  He is a member of the Capitol Chapter of the National Institute of Governmental Purchasing (AZNIGP), has served on various committees and regularly presents at their conferences.  Bill has always been an active procurement advocate for Arizona public procurement entities.

The amazing thing here, is that VSMG did not just hire Bill Munch to help their organization.  They hired him to help all of their member organizations as well – for free!  Talk about going the extra mile.  In addition, they are even offering his services to NON-members.  Already, Bill Munch has helped with training at Tolleson Union School District, Tuba City Unified School District, Santa Cruz Valley Union High School District, Wickenburg Unified School District and Scottsdale Unified School District.  Only two of those are VSMG members.

Over the next few months, Bill has another twelve seminars and trainings planned across Arizona.  When you see an organization that committed to helping others follow the procurement laws and save public funding, you just have to say Bravo!  Many of those districts do not have the resources for that level of assistance on their own, and VSMG is there to help.


Jerry Cipriano Promoted at VSMG

7 Sep

Jerry Cipriano has been promoted at the Valley Schools Management Group (VSMG).  The following is his picture and a copy of the letter announcing his promotion:

Jerry Cipriano, second from left, with solar panel for saving schools energy costs.


Deer Valley High School from above. One of many projects Jerry Cipriano worked on to save millions in energy costs.

We are pleased to announce that Mr. Jerry Cipriano has agreed to accept the position of Director of School Services.  Jerry will be providing a critical role for our member districts in his new capacity, ensuring a smooth continuation of project management services and assistance.

Jerry Cipriano has over thirty-one years of experience in building management, design, construction and warranties in school districts.  His many accomplishments include the construction and remodeling of many elementary schools, construction management of Sandra Day O’Connor High School and Boulder Creek High School and the remodeling and refurbishing of Deer Valley High School and Barry Goldwater High School.  Since 1981, Jerry has worked every aspect of school construction.

In addition, Mr. Cipriano also has been CEO of a private construction firm that built numerous homes in Arizona and has nearly twenty years of experience in the private sector construction management field.  Jerry is extremely competent and experienced and we look forward to having him take a greater role in assisting our member school districts on projects.

Please join us in congratulating Jerry Cipriano on his new role and his new challenges in helping Arizona public entities through improved project and utility management programs.


Tom Boone

Chairman and CEO

Valley Schools Management Group

Ways to be a Competent Project Manager

3 Sep

reposted from:

Project management: How to make good use of the financial resources?

A competent project manager has an equally competent and agile team. The team comprises of various subject matter experts who bring their individual expertise to the table and achieve dizzying heights of success. It must be noted that immense business productivity is the fulcrum on which the entire business rests.

A project manager has to perform various complex tasks simultaneously in order to complete the project on hand. He tries to complete each and every project in minimum time possible and enhance the project’s bottom line. A project manger has to co-ordinate with the logistics department, human resources department, sales & marketing department, purchase department and most importantly finance department (including cost and accounts section).

Speaking mainly of how a competent project manager uses his company’s finances to extract most benefits out of those investments.

Investment tips for a competent project manager

Here are few suggestions on how to invest in a project that reaps good profits:

  1. Overall wellbeing of the project manager – A project manager must not get stressed out because of the pressure from the management to complete the project in time and spend less money. He should be in a good condition both physically and mentally. The management should extend all the necessary help and support to the project manager. This will assure him that he can expect full consideration from the management in case anything goes awry.
  2. Execution of a good business plan – A company must have a clear idea as what are the basic amenities a project manager would need in order to complete a project in the stipulated time. Before starting a project, the company should have a well-sketched budget and a business plan. Moreover, the project manager must be able to persuade the policymakers of the company to have a financial priority list and make adjustments accordingly within the company’s finances. This will increase the performance of the project manager and the team. Ultimately, the project will be a profitable one.
  3. Reduction in work pressure – A company should be emotionally inclined towards the burden of the project manager he goes through each day. Therefore, as a burden reduction measure the management can shoulder some of the responsibility of the project manager. For instance, calculating the finances of the company and project on behalf of the operations department will give some relief to operations team. Mostly, an operations team would only need to know about the company’s bottom line and nothing more than that.

A competent project manager should have more skills than what are discussed above. Some of them are far-sightedness, problem solving skills, interpersonal skills and people management skills.

Deer Valley Unified School District Saves Millions on Energy!

31 Aug

The Deer Valley Unified School District (DVUSD) received a check this week for over $30,000 from Arizona Public Service (APS) for their utility management program.  With this check, savings for the district in rebates alone are millions of dollars since they started the program with the help of Valley Schools Management Group (VSMG).  The rebates are a partial reimbursement for DVUSD taking the initiative to install more energy efficient equipment after an extensive review of campuses.  Not only has their been millions in rebates, but the utility savings are also staggering.

Jim Migliorino, Associate Superintendent of Fiscal Services, Deer Valley Unified School District

Jim Migliorino, the Associate Superintendent for Fiscal Services at DVUSD has helped spearhead this effort to reduce costs.  Working closely with John Brunell and Tim O’Brien of VSMG, Jim has retro-fitted and replaced equipment in circumstances where the cost of the upgrade is more than offset with utility savings and APS rebates.  It is an uncommon event to see such dedication to saving money for a school district so that precious tax dollars can go into the classroom, not to pay for excess utility costs.

One of many checks earned by DVUSD from APS as a result of their efforts.

More to come in future posts on details as to how these significant savings were realized.

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