March 2020

NACE Update from President Tim Hens

It is hard to believe that my term is winding down. I know all Past Presidents have said the same thing, and it is probably redundant, but the year really has flown by! The extra duty of representing NACE on top of our already busy jobs back home really seems to eat up the calendar. I tried to get to two states or events a month on behalf of NACE and I almost fulfilled my goal. My only miss was visiting Iowa when the ever-present lake effect snow around Buffalo kept me from completing the journey down the runway.

It obviously has been a crazy time for everyone with the spread of COVID-19 and many folks living under “Stay at home” orders. By now you have probably heard that the NACE Board of Directors has made the difficult decision to cancel our annual conference in April. This was lining up to be our largest and most well-attended conference in some time. The decision was not taken lightly as it represents an enormous portion of our annual revenue, but the health and safety of our members, affiliates and exhibitors took priority. NACE is offering refunds for the conference. If you would like to request a refund, please contact Staci Morgan at NACE in writing no later than April 17th. We would like to have all refunds issued by May 1st.

There will be a financial impact on our organization as a result of cancelling the conference. I have tasked a newly formed Finance Subcommittee out of our Executive Committee to work with NACE Staff to verify our cash position after refunds are issued and evaluate our long-term cash flow. NACE has worked hard over the past 6 years building ample reserves, but I want to be sure that we have enough cash on hand to get us to our next conference which is in Palm Springs, CA in April 2021.

    Before COVID-19 grew exponentially around the country, several members of the Executive Committee, Corporate Services Committee Chair and NACE Past-President Mark Servi, and NACE Executive Director Kevan Stone flew across the country to promote NACE at the CONEXPO/CONAGG in Las Vegas. This major trade show only happens once every three years and despite a somewhat lower turnout based on the threat of the virus, the show was still well-attended. We put on the full-court press to recruit additional corporate members and sponsors to strengthen our organization.  Several solid leads were established, and we have already secured a few new sponsors and exhibitors, with more follow-up to come.

    In late February, the Executive Committee and several members from NACE attended the NACo Legislative Conference in Washington, DC. Just prior to this event, NACE hosted its second annual Capitol Hill Fly-In event. We participated in meetings with the White House, USDOT, the House T&I Majority as well as several Congressional Representatives.

At the White House we met with members from the Office of Management and Budget (OMB), National Economic Council (NEC) as well as representatives from the Council on Environmental Quality (CEQ). This meeting focused on streamlining federal aid and it expanded on our previous attendance with President Trump when he announced NEPA reforms in January. NEPA streamlining is something our organization has sought for many years. Aside from streamlining the delivery of federal aid projects, NACE also stressed the importance of increased continuity during disaster response. The major differences between FEMA and FHWA oversight during disaster recovery were pointed out and the White House seemed very interested in addressing the problem.

Visits to the House T&I Committee and USDOT focused in on reauthorization of the surface transportation bill set to expire in September. NACE highlighted the possibility of allowing the opportunity for direct federal funding to counties. We also stressed the need to support all sources of revenue to ensure the long-term viability of the Highway Trust Fund. Long-term capital planning is impossible if we do not have a stable revenue in the future.

After the Fly-In, several NACE members were present for the NACo Transportation Steering Committee. It is a goal of NACE to be the technical experts on this committee, and we were given the opportunity to make a presentation during the Business Meeting that highlighted the efforts of several County Engineer state affiliates in getting transportation funding bills passed in their home states. Aside from attending the committee meeting, I was also able to introduce myself to County Engineers and Surveyors from several states where NACE does not yet have a presence. I’m hopeful that these new connections will bear fruit for our organization.

While I am disappointed that we will not be visiting Alabama, I did want to take the time to thank the members of the Alabama County Engineers Association for their tremendous efforts to put together what was going to be an awesome show. Your efforts will not go wasted as we are planning on making Orange Beach a reality in 2023!

COVID-19 is undoubtedly disrupting our lives in many ways. I am confident that our country and our organization will pull through this and we will come out the other side in a strong place. Events like this always change things—many times for the better! I’m hopeful that our communities, our neighbors, our families, and friends can all stay healthy and safe.

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