June 20, 2017 Efficiency, Environment, GO-TIME, Innovation, Press Release Harrisburg, PA – The Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) has decreased the cost of construction projects and improved efficiency for contractors with the launch of an electronic bidding site for construction contracts, the department’s newest GO-TIME initiative.“Developing an online tool to accept and process construction contracts continues our agency-wide efforts to increase efficiency and save money,” said DEP Secretary Patrick McDonnell. “Not only have staff time and material costs been reduced, but bidding has become more competitive, bringing down the average cost of awarded construction contracts.”DEP seeks bids for about 50 contracts annually for construction related to abandoned mine reclamation, acid mine drainage, surface mine reclamation, cleaning and plugging oil and gas wells, waterways engineering, hazardous site remediation, removal and disposal of underground storage tanks, and wetland restoration.As more vendors see contracts online, the number of bids per project has increased from an average of 6.12 to 7.23. The increased competition has decreased the average bid amount per project and therefore the average awarded contract amount. In addition, staff time and material cost savings of approximately $36,000 per year have been achieved.Vendors enjoy time-saving, partially auto-populated forms, which help reduce errors that can cause rejection, and an e-bonding option when bid bonds are required. In addition, an email notification system alerts vendors of any addenda to contracts, so they can adjust their bid promptly.Templates lessen the time staff spend preparing and issuing contract documents and solicitations. As just one example, staff typically checked each bid manually for math; the electronic system now checks math automatically.The e-bidding site uses the third-party BidExpress system. Electronic bidding supports the Governor’s Office of Transformation, Innovation, Management and Efficiency (GO-TIME), which works with state entities to modernize government operations to reduce costs and improve services. State agencies already saved over $156 million last fiscal year and Governor Wolf challenged GO-TIME to build upon this success by achieving $500 million in savings by 2020.Construction e-bidding is part of a recent technology upgrade campaign at DEP that includes a mobile app that’s made DEP inspections of oil and gas sites more efficient and an electronic permit application that speeds up the permit process for surface coal mine operators. Location-based data on everything from air quality to water pollution can be found on the new DEP GIS Open Data Portal, and the public can quickly access oil and gas data through the online Oil and Gas Annual Report and public review tool for operator documents. Historical oil and gas well location is also going online, starting with Allegheny County. DEP will launch more electronic upgrades in coming months.To learn more about GO-TIME, visit https://www.governor.pa.gov/go-time/. GO-TIME: Electronic Bidding Lowers Cost of DEP Construction Contracts SHARE Email Facebook Twitter
By Alan BaldwinLONDON, England (Reuters) – England suspended all-rounder Ben Stokes and opener Alex Hales from international cricket until further notice yesterday after the pair were involved in an altercation outside a Bristol nightclub.The announcement came a day after Stokes, England’s highest-profile cricketer and vice-captain of the Test side, was named in the 16-man squad for the Ashes tour of Australia starting in November.The England and Wales Cricket Board (ECB) said in a statement that both Stokes and Hales remained on full pay pending further investigation into the incident in the early hours of Monday.Stokes was arrested on suspicion of causing actual bodily harm and then released without charge under investigation on Monday, and Hales was with him at the time of the incident.“Ben Stokes and Alex Hales will not be considered for selection for England international matches until further notice,” the ECB said.The immediate effect of the suspension is to rule both out of today’s final one-day international against West Indies in Southampton.“Andrew Strauss, Director of England Cricket, will today refer the internal disciplinary procedure for these two players to the Cricket Discipline Commission, chaired by Tim O’Gorman,” the ECB added.“These decisions, fully supported by ECB Chairman Colin Graves, were made following the release of footage viewed by ECB for the first time on Wednesday night.”The Sun newspaper published footage of what it said was a brawl between the player and two other persons, one clutching a bottle. The authenticity of the images could not be confirmed by Reuters.Media reports said Stokes, who suffered a minor fracture of a finger on his right hand, had apologised to the ECB for his arrest and described his state of mind as “fragile and devastated”.Should the 26-year-old definitively be ruled out of the tour, it would be a huge blow for England whose chances of defending the Ashes Down Under have already been called into question.The hosts whitewashed England 5-0 in the last Ashes in Australia in 2013/14.Strauss had hoped earlier that the situation could ‘galvanise’ the rest of the team.”You can go one of two ways,“ he said after the squad announcement. ”It can actually bring people together or it can allow people to splinter off into other groups.”What I‘m very encouraged about is how tight that team environment is at the moment.“I‘m exceptionally hopeful that they can use this to galvanise things and bring them closer together, to focus their minds on what they need to achieve in Australia.”
World number one and defending champion Dustin Johnson heads the field in Wisconsin, where knee-high rough has dominated the pre-tournament debate.The first tee shot was fired at 12:45 BST thursday.American defending champion Johnson missed the Masters in April after slipping on steps and hurting his back on the eve of the tournament.Fit again, the big-hitting 32-year-old is bidding to become the first player to win back-to-back US Opens since Curtis Strange in 1988 and 1989.Johnson had said he would not travel to Erin Hills until the birth of his second child with his expectant partner Paulina Gretzky.But after arriving in Wisconsin on Tuesday evening following the birth of his son, the world number one says he is ready for the course’s challenge.“I like really tough golf courses,” said Johnson, who won by three shots at Oakmont last year.“I tend to focus more and play better. It’s just a very, very difficult tournament to win.”Johnson will be grouped with previous US Open winners Jordan Spieth and Martin Kaymer in Thursday’s opening round.Spieth beat fellow American Johnson to the title in 2015 and was in contention until the final round last year.“It’s always a physical test,” said the world number five. “It’s a big golf course. It’s a tough one to walk.”The 23-year-old Texan has failed to add to his major tally since 2015, when he also won the Masters, and has just one PGA Tour victory to his name this season.But he is one of the few players in this week’s field to have competitive experience of Erin Hills, having played at the venue in the 2011 US Amateur Championship.“Most of all it certainly tests the mental game more than any other place in golf,” added Spieth. “And I’ve witnessed that on both sides of things.“If you came for a stress-free tournament you didn’t come to the right place. And we know that going in.”World number two Rory McIlroy has insisted he is “totally fine” and ready to challenge this week as he returns to action after a month out because of injury.The Northern Irishman believes the Erin Hills course is one he can thrive on.“I don’t think it’s a secret that I feel like my driver is one of the biggest weapons in my bag,” he said.“If I can get that in my hands more regularly, and I think if the field has to hit driver more, that plays into my hands too.”Spaniard Sergio Garcia heads into the tournament on the back of his first major win, claiming the Green Jacket at Augusta in April.The 37-year-old world number seven hopes to draw on his Masters win in the season’s second major.“Every tournament is tough to win and majors are even tougher,” he said. “And a US Open, we all know how difficult they are.”In the modern era, only two players have won multiple majors after claiming their first aged 37 or older, with Angel Cabrera winning his first of two at that age and Mark O’Meara winning twice in 1998 aged 41.“I still feel in good shape and my game feels nice. I’m still working hard on it,” added Garcia.Debate around the cut of the rough at Erin Hills has divided opinion among those set to play the longest course in major history this weekend.The striking aspect of this venue is the distance – the par-five 18th can stretch to 675 yards – but the United States Golf Association (USGA) has faced questions over knee-high grass that lurks a few feet off the fairways.Fescue was cut from holes four, 12, 14 and 18 on Tuesday as organisers believed wet weather made the areas unplayable – especially with more rain forecast for the tournament days.Many holes feature blind or semi-blind tee-shots, while the course’s mid-section runs on an outward-inward path that will ensure players face variable winds.Spain’s Jon Rahm said the US Open venue was “like a links golf course on steroids”.“But I think it’s US Open, they expect our best,” added the 22-year-old.England’s Lee Westwood posted a video of his caddie crawling through the rough, while American Kevin Na was more scathing of the set-up.But McIlroy and Spieth both dismissed claims there was anything wrong with the lie.The Northern Irishman said: “If we can’t hit within that avenue, you might as well pack your bags and go home.”Five-time major winner Phil Mickelson said earlier this month he was likely to miss the tournament to attend daughter Amanda’s high school graduation in California yesterday.Mickelson retains a tee-time, but unless the weather conspires in the 46-year-old’s favour he will not return in time for the first round.Amanda was born a day after the championship in 1999 when Mickelson finished second to Payne Stewart, with the US Open the only major still to elude the American.With Tiger Woods also absent, this year’s US Open could be the first time since 1994 that neither player has featured in the first round.Share this:FacebookRedditTwitterPrintPinterestEmailWhatsAppSkypeLinkedInTumblrPocketTelegram US OPEN 2017Billed as one of golf’s toughest tests, the 2017 US Open looks set to push the world’s best to their limits as Erin Hills prepares for its first major.At nearly 8,000 yards, the 11-year-old links-style layout will be the longest course in the championship’s history.