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Former executive director Amadeo Saenz has retired. I know you join me in saluting his able leadership. While our agency awaits the choice of a new leader, I want to tell you how much our agency appreciates the members of the Associated General Contractors and the way it does business.

There were many milestones in the fiscal year 2011. The way we finished it up was a highlight in a noteworthy year. TxDOT and the AGC achieved significant accomplishments worthy of recognition.

TxDOT awarded 924 projects this past year. These projects have a value of approximately $4.09 billion. The value of state let projects was $3.59 billion, with locally let projects valued at $590 million. Of the projects awarded, 275 were accelerated to meet our projected annual letting value. The ability to advance such a large number of projects to letting is due to lower than expected contract prices, allowing for additional work, plus the efforts of countless TxDOT employees across the state in planning and accelerating project development.

During the past year, all American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (ARRA) funds allocated to TxDOT were federally obligated and let to contract. Texas leads the nation for largest ARRA project, the amount of ARRA funds spent and jobs created or retained. We have completed 60 percent of the projects and spent 70 percent of the allocated funding.

In fiscal year 2011, we expanded procedures related to project letting and accepted bids on our first construction projects, which included add alternates and an optional bid. By using these different letting strategies, we reduced costs through increased competition and greater contractor flexibility. We anticipate greater future use of these approaches. Based on contractor feedback, we are improving our bidding system to accept electronic bids for these types of projects.

We will continue our efforts to develop new tools and processes to expand and improve our highway construction program. This includes development of a new specification book with a “performance based” theme. This work will be led by TxDOT and include participation of the AGC and other interested stakeholders. We expect to begin the first phases of this undertaking in early fall.

We will also begin administering routine maintenance contracts in the same manner as construction contracts using SiteManager. This change will make project administration seamless for contractors and inspectors through a single project management system, regardless of funding source.

Furthermore, we expect to make improvements to our Disadvantaged Business Enterprise program. We are evaluating various ways to streamline current processes and procedures. And we continue to look for ways to increase use of electronic data and document transmission, as well as enhancements to the Electronic Payroll System to improve payroll processing.

Last year both AGC and TxDOT promoted the partnering concept from the management level, and this year we will launch a “Partnering—Part II” effort in which we will work to institutionalize concepts and expectations at the project level. Working through the framework of effective partnerships is a proven approach, and it provides us with greater opportunities for success.

We greatly appreciate the efforts of the AGC in making this past fiscal year’s accomplishments a reality. We look forward to a productive fiscal year 2012 and even greater success.

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