News & Press: Member Update

Texas Elections/ACEC Cost Study

Friday, March 9, 2018  
Posted by: Michael Hancock
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Member Update

March 9, 2018





Voters participated in party primary elections this week, with a largely status quo outcome. Participation in the Republican primary was 1.5 million, while just over 1 million Democrats voted.


Governor Greg Abbott dominated the Republican statewide ballot with over 90 percent of the vote. Lt. Governor Dan Patrick, with tougher opposition, received 75 percent. Land Commissioner George P. Bush, Agriculture Commissioner Sid Miller, and Railroad Commissioner Christi Craddick won contested races.


In the Democratic primary, there will be a gubernatorial runoff between Lupe Valdez of Dallas and Andrew White of Houston.


The Texas Senate will likely be a shade more conservative than before, as Rep. Pat Fallon ousted incumbent Sen. Craig Estes from a Denton/Wichita Falls seat, Sen. Bob Hall turned back a challenge from Rep. Cindy Burkett, and Angela Paxton beat Phillip Huffines for a Collin County open seat vacated by Van Taylor, who ran for Congress. State tolling policy was an issue in several of these races and, if anything, these races suggest that it will be a very uphill battle to address this issue effectively in 2019.


In the House, "grassroots" organizations had little success. Governor Abbott lost two of the three races where he challenged House leaders in the primary. Most of the House leadership who faced challenges from monied conservative groups won, including Charlie Geren (Fort Worth), Dan Flynn (Van), Chris Paddie (Marshall), Four Price (Amarillo), Paul Workman (Austin), John Raney (College Station), Hugh Shine (Temple), Linda Koop (Dallas), and others. Open seat races split fairly evenly between business-oriented conservatives and social conservatives.


Incumbent Republican Rep. Jason Villalba lost in Dallas, as did three Democratic House incumbents - Roberto Alonzo, Tomas Uresti, and Diana Arevalo.


Runoff elections will be May 22. Key legislative races include:

- Cody Harris vs. Thomas McNutt in Corsicana/Palestine open seat (Cook)

- Stuart Spitzer and Keith Bell in Terrell open seat (Gooden)

- Jill Wolfskill and Ben Leman in Brenham open seat (Schubert)

- Incumbent Scott Cosper and Brad Buckley in Killeen

- Reggie Smith and Brent Lawson in Sherman open seat (Phillips)

- Matt Beebe and Steve Allison in San Antonio open seat (Straus)

- Former Austin City Council member Sheryl Cole and Jose Vela in Austin seat previously held by    Dawna Dukes, who did not make the runoff.



ACEC National asked us to provide the information below to members, especially those who do Corps of Engineers-related work:

As you may be aware, the ACEC national organization has engaged New York University (NYU) to undertake a study that seeks to compare the in-house costs of doing design and related activities at the Corps of Engineers and NAVFAC – including a fully-loaded overhead -- with the costs of contracting out those services to engineering firms. NYU has made good progress in gathering data from most of the Corps districts around the country, and ACEC is asking for our help to promote participation among firms that currently or have previously done work for the Corps of Engineers and the Naval Facilities Command (NAVFAC).

NYU has developedan online survey to this important research project. The survey is relatively short, and seeks data from each firm on direct and indirect costs and typical profit margins, as well as the various Corps and NAVFAC districts/regions where the firm does work. All data will be strictly confidential – only the NYU research team will have access to the information submitted by firms and no participating firms will be identified while the study is underway or in the final report. All data submitted will be aggregated with information provided by other participating firms.

We would urge you to take the time to participate. As an industry that strongly promotes and defends the use of Qualifications-Based Selection (QBS) in the procurement of A/E services, we know that simple cost metrics do not properly convey the true value of engineering service providers to our clients and to the public. Unfortunately, very often in-sourcing decisions made by federal agencies, as well as related efforts by public employee unions to mandate in-sourcing, are often justified on the flawed basis that the agency saves money by keeping the work in-house. We believe this study will provide us with a useful tool to counter those claims, and allow us to bring the discussion back to the real value measures for contracting out, such as the innovation, efficient/timely project delivery, and project success that results when highly qualified engineering firms are put to work.

Thank you for your participation and support. If you would like to receive a link to the survey or if you have any questions, please feel free to contact Jessica Salmoiraghi at and Steve Hall at


Calendar of Events

  • March 25-26: ACEC Texas Annual Membership Meeting, Houston
  • April 16-18: ACEC National Meeting, Washington, DC
  • May 3: ACEC Texas Public Policy Council Meeting, Austin
  • May 7-8: ACEC Texas Project Management Training, Houston

In The News

Go to for current articles on construction, engineering, public works, transportation, politics and more including:

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  • Austin demands $22 million from Waller Creek tunnel builders, citing defective construction
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  • Fort Worth council talks transportation fee proposals
  • Why the Texas energy industry is watching Mexico's election
  • What happened to Harris County's $1 billion bond election under consideration for May?
  • and more . . .

ACEC Texas Chapters


1001 Congress Ave., Suite 200 - Austin, Texas 78701

512-474-1474 - fax 512-474-1490

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