Archive | Press Releases RSS feed for this section

Council Strengthens Living Wage Law Enforcement

ROCKVILLE, Md., February 2, 2016—The Montgomery County Council today unanimously approved legislation to significantly strengthen the enforcement of the County’s Living Wage law. Montgomery County service contractors are required to pay their workers a living wage set annually based on the rate of inflation. Bill 43-15 addressed concerns that that some employers were making deductions to their workers’ paychecks without the consent of the worker.

Possible violations of the living wage law were first reported by The Washington Post in May 2015. In October, lead sponsors Councilmembers Nancy Navarro and Marc Elrich introduced Bill 43-15. Councilmembers George Leventhal and Hans Riemer co-sponsored the bill.

The Post reported that approximately 140 governments nationwide have similar living wage laws to Montgomery County. That story can be found at http://tinyurl.com/gv765h3 .

The current living wage for employees working for contractors with Montgomery County is $14.35.

As approved, Bill 43-15 accomplishes the following:

  • Requires detailed payroll records to be submitted quarterly to the Office of Procurement and requires the County to retain those records for at least five years.
  • Establishes strong penalties, such as suspension and debarment, for a Living Wage law violation.
  • Requires the County to perform regular and random audits and allows the County to recover costs for performing an audit as a result of an enforcement action.
  • Prohibits an employer from making a deduction for any item necessary for an employee to perform the essential job function.
  • Allows the County to withhold payment to a contractor found in violation of the Living Wage law.
  • Removes the exemption in the Living Wage law for employees subject to collective bargaining agreements.

“I am pleased my colleagues unanimously supported this legislation to strengthen the County’s Living Wage law,” said Councilmember Navarro. “Montgomery County’s Living Wage law is designed to protect workers from abuses by employers and Bill 43-15 provides teeth to ensure the County can enforce it appropriately. Now, workers and the County will have recourse if an employer is not paying their employees fairly.”

Councilmember Elrich said: “In 2002, the Council passed a living wage bill with the clear intent to provide employees with a living wage. It is unfortunate that certain unscrupulous business owners managed to subvert the intent of the law, to the detriment of their employees. As amended today, the law now has clear reporting requirements and distinct penalties for not paying employees on County contracts a living wage. I am proud to stand with Councilmember Navarro and my colleagues in sending this clear message that the County will protect contractor employees’ right to earn a living wage.”

County Executive Ike Leggett will have 10 days to approve the bill after he receives it from the Council. The bill will take effect 91 days after it is signed by the County Executive.

 

# # # #

 

Verizon Foundation, Hispanic Heritage Foundation and Montgomery County Councilmember Nancy Navarro to Launch ‘Code as a Second Language’ Initiative

Program to Teach Computer Coding to Springbrook High School Students Will Be Detailed on Wednesday, Dec. 2

WASHINGTON, D.C., December 1, 2015—The Verizon Foundation, the Hispanic Heritage Foundation (HHF) and Montgomery County Councilmember Nancy Navarro at 10 a.m. on Wednesday, Dec. 2, will launch the “Code as a Second Language” (CSL) program at Springbrook High School in Silver Spring. They will offer details of the program that will introduce and teach computer coding to high school students over an eight-week period. The program also will expose the students to tech professionals who will be able to serve as mentors. 

 

The program will be introduced in the media center of Springbrook High, which is located at 201 Valley Brook Dr. in Silver Spring.

 

The CSL initiative will also be executed by the Verizon Foundation and HHF at schools in Northern Virginia and in Washington, D.C., as part of Verizon’s commitment to science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) education. CSL instructors are young programmers who are in HHF’s LOFT (Latinos On Fast Track) Network. The initiative is currently in about 50 schools in more than 15 regions across the nation.  

“Driving the CSL effort is the belief that all youth deserve access to technology-based programs and have an opportunity to enter the workforce in a stronger position which will help America move forward,” said Antonio Tijerino. “The Verizon Foundation and Councilmember Navarro share that vision and we are grateful for their leadership preparing our youth to be innovators.”

 

Councilmember Navarro, who serves on the County Council’s Education Committee, said: “We are making investments in the retention and creation of jobs through the adoption of Master and Sector Plans that position Montgomery County as a global technology destination. I am thankful to HHF, Verizon, and Montgomery County Public Schools for engaging in initiatives like Coding as a second Language which will train our students, especially those from communities that are underrepresented in STEM fields, to become part of the creation of a qualified workforce pipeline.”

 

Although there will be a need to fill nearly two million tech jobs within the next five years, 90 percent of schools in the U.S. do not teach coding.  The CSL initiative is designed to fil that gap.

Mario Acosta-Velez, Verizon’s director of State Government Affairs, said: “Verizon is proud to partner with the Hispanic Heritage Foundation to implement the Code as a Second Language program.  Our goal is to help build the students’ coding skills and increase their interest and engagement in STEM-related fields and careers.  We want to help prepare our future leaders for the 21st Century by fostering collaboration among students, enhance their problem-solving skills and provide a solid introduction to STEM.”

The CSL initiative includes identification of Key Performance Indicators (KPIs) in collaboration with schools; baseline survey of students’ knowledge to test progress throughout CSL course; guest speakers from the technology industry; engagement of private and public sector volunteers; eight sessions; hands-on assistance for students working on course material outside of class time; soft skill development such as leadership and collaboration; work-based learning such as building actual products and presentation to peers; and certifications upon completion. 

 

The students also will be funneled to the award-winning LOFT Network for ongoing on-line instruction and will be connected to other students, mentors, networking, resources, STEM-related events, and later, internships and full-time positions with Fortune 500 companies.

About the Hispanic Heritage Foundation

The Hispanic Heritage Foundation inspires, prepares, positions and connects minority leaders in the classroom, community and workforce to meet America’s priorities. HHF also promotes cultural pride, accomplishment, and the great promise of the community through public awareness campaigns seen by millions.

HHF’s award-winning LOFT (Leaders On Fast Track) leadership and workforce development program is divided into 10 “tracks,” or fields including Innovation and Technology, Science, Healthcare, Engineering, Finance, Entrepreneurship, Education, Public Service, Media and Entertainment and Latinas. HHF is headquartered in Washington, D.C., and has offices in Los Angeles, Miami and New York. The LOFT Institute is housed at Michigan State University (Visit www.HispanicHeritage.org.)

About Verizon

Verizon Communications Inc. (NYSE, Nasdaq: VZ), headquartered in New York, is a global leader in delivering broadband and other wireless and wireline communications services to consumer, business, government and wholesale customers.

Verizon Wireless operates America’s most reliable wireless network, with 108.6 million retail connections nationwide. Verizon also provides converged communications, information and entertainment services over America’s most advanced fiber-optic network, and delivers integrated business solutions to customers worldwide. A Dow 30 company with more than $127 billion in 2014 revenues, Verizon employs a diverse workforce of 176,200. For more information, visit www.verizon.com/news/.

 

For additional information, contact Alberto Avalos of the LOFT Institute at Alberto@LOFTinstitute.org or 323-397-9862.

 

# # # #

Montgomery County Council Forms New Public-Private Partnership Aimed at Closing the Achievement Gap

 

Councilmember Nancy Navarro Forms Partnership with Rales Foundation to Bring ‘Building Educated Leaders for Life’ Program to Montgomery County Public Schools

 ROCKVILLE, Md., Nov. 12, 2015—Montgomery County Councilmember Nancy Navarro at 2:10 p.m. on Tuesday, Nov. 17, will be joined at the Council Office Building in Rockville by Council President George Leventhal; Councilmember Craig Rice, who chairs the Council’s Education Committee; Joshua Rales, president and trustee of the Norman R. and Ruth Rales Foundation; Patricia O’Neill, president of the Montgomery County Board of Education; and Lauren Gilbert, vice president of program impact and innovation of the Building Educated Leaders for Life (BELL) program, to announce a new public-private partnership to help close the achievement gap.

Councilmember Navarro will explain this exciting partnership that will bring the new, data-driven summer program for second and third graders to the County. BELL provides a proven program to address the knowledge gap that occurs among students during the summer months. The program has served more than 100,000 students since 1992 and receives financial support from the Rales Foundation.

“As a member of the President’s Advisory Commission on Educational Excellence for Hispanics and a former member of the Montgomery County Board of Education, I know that early interventions and programs that reach children during out-of-school time are required to close the achievement gap,” said Councilmember Navarro, who chairs the Council’s Government Operations and Fiscal Policy Committee and is a member of the Council’s Education Committee. “BELL provides students with a holistic program that not only spurs educational achievement, but also provides enrichment activities and emphasizes health and nutrition. This program has a proven track record and data-driven results. I can’t wait for our students to become BELL scholars.”

The BELL Program is a five-to-six week summer program with a staffing plan that includes Montgomery County Public Schools certified teachers and teaching assistants. The program focuses on literacy, science, math, technology, arts and health. BELL also provides breakfast and lunch to students daily and includes hands-on enrichment, field trips and community projects.

In Montgomery County, the BELL Program will focus on second and third grade students because, according to the organization, “reading proficiency by the end of the third grade is the most important predictor of high school graduation and career and life success.”

“The Rales Foundation is very excited about its new partnership with BELL and Montgomery County to bring a much needed, time tested summer program targeting ‘at risk’ second and third graders to improve their literacy and math skills,” said Mr. Rales. “Having been raised in Montgomery County by our parents, Norman and Ruth, my brothers Steven, Mitchell and I attended Montgomery County Public Schools. Therefore, we are thrilled to have the opportunity through the Norman and Ruth Rales Foundation to be part of the solution to closing the achievement gap in our community.”

It is estimated that the BELL Program will serve 4,200 students during a four-year period. The educational component of the program costs approximately $1,430 per student. The Council’s special appropriation of $750,750, which was introduced by Councilmember Navarro and includes all Councilmembers as sponsors, will fund half of the program. Funding from the Rales Foundation and other financial contributions will complete the funding required for more than 1,000 MCPS students to begin the program during the summer of 2016. MCPS and stakeholders will work together on implementation details including which students are selected to participate in the program.

Councilmember Navarro also has requested that County Executive Ike Leggett include matching funds in the Children’s Opportunity Fund for Fiscal Year 2017 to support the second year of the program.

Councilmember Navarro proposed creating a mechanism to ensure a long-term strategic approach and dedicated funding source for early childhood education in 2014. The Council approved funding to begin the Children’s Opportunity Fund in Fiscal Year 2016.

“I am incredibly grateful to Councilmember Nancy Navarro, Josh Rales and the Rales Foundation for their leadership in helping to make this program a reality for our children,” said Board of Education President O’Neill. “This kind of partnership between our schools, the Rales Foundation and the County government will provide our children with support this summer to ensure that learning continues during the summer months.”

There are numerous studies throughout the nation showing the impact that early childhood education and wrap-around support services have on closing the achievement gap for students.

In March, the University of North Carolina’s Frank Porter Graham Child Development Institute’s released a report titled High-Quality Early Education: Age of Entry and Time in Care Differences in Student Outcomes for English-Only and Dual Language Learners. The report found that “high-quality early education is especially advantageous for children when they start younger and continue longer. Not only does more high-quality early education significantly boost the language skills of children from low-income families, children whose first language is not English benefit even more.”

“When schools and communities work together, we can create and sustain more and better learning opportunities for the children who need them most,” said Lauren Gilbert, vice president of impact and innovation for BELL. “We look forward to expanding access to summer learning in Montgomery County and enabling scholars to strengthen their academic, social, and emotional skills and enter the new school year ready to excel.”

The BELL Program is based on a small group model that uses certified teachers and trained tutors. BELL’s outcome measures have been rigorously tested by the Urban Institute and the program measures student progress utilizing STAR Assessment computer adaptive testing and conducts surveys of parents and teachers.

BELL has a proven track record in the Washington-Baltimore region. In 2006, BELL launched its Baltimore program with 416 students and has grown to serve 1,200. In 2014, BELL formed a partnership with YMCA in the District of Columbia and will serve 240 students this year.

The Nov. 17 press conference will be held in the Third Floor Conference Room of the Council Office Building at 100 Maryland Ave. in Rockville. The event will coincide with the Council’s vote, scheduled for 1:30 p.m. on Tuesday, on the appropriation to fund the program. The Council’s action and the ensuing news event will be broadcast live on County Cable Montgomery (Cable Channel 6 on Comcast and RCN, Channel 30 on Verizon) and will be streamed live via the Council web site at: www.montgomerycountymd.gov/council.

For more information on BELL, visit: http://www.experiencebell.org/.

 

# # # #

Montgomery County Council to Commemorate Hispanic Heritage Month

On Tuesday, Sept. 29, Special Ceremonies and Panel Discussion
in Rockville Will Highlight ‘The Current State of the Latino Community in Montgomery County’

ROCKVILLE, Md., September 25, 2015—The Montgomery County Council at 11 a.m. on Tuesday, Sept, 29, will hold special ceremonies to commemorate Hispanic Heritage Month. The special event on “The Current State of the Latino Community in Montgomery County” will include a panel discussion with Hispanic and Latino leaders in the County whose work on social justice issues have helped shape the community. There also will be a video presentation featuring Hispanic and Latino residents who will share their life experiences and express their views on issues that will shape the future.

This Hispanic Heritage Month celebration will be part of the County Council session that will take place in the Third Floor Hearing Room of the Council Office Building at 100 Maryland Ave. in Rockville. The special ceremonies will be televised live by County Cable Montgomery (CCM—Cable Channel 6 on Comcast and RCN, Channel 30 on Verizon). The broadcast also will be streamed at: www.montgomerycountymd.gov/council/ondemand/index.html.

Among those to share their experiences with Councilmembers during the panel discussion are Jose Antonio Tijerino, president and CEO of the Hispanic Heritage Foundation; Alberto Avendaño, executive editor of El Tiempo Latino; Angela Franco, president and CEO of Greater Washington Hispanic Chamber of Commerce; and Jonathan Jayes-Green, community activist and former administrator for the Governor’s Commission on Hispanic Affairs.

The event will include a demographic overview of the Hispanic and Latino community in Montgomery County and a panel discussion on shared history, personal contributions and observations on currents issues facing the community.

“The Hispanic/Latino community in our County mirrors the nation,” said Councilmember Nancy Navarro, who initiated this Hispanic Heritage event. “It is a young, hard-working and forward thinking community. Contrary to the negative rhetoric espoused by some, this community continues to make valuable contributions to the fabric of our County and our nation. This month we celebrate our shared heritage and we salute those who make a difference each and every day.”

According to the Montgomery County’s Planning Department, 192,887 County residents self-identify as Hispanic, which represents 18.7 percent of the population. In this group, 61,802 residents are from El Salvador, 15,755 are from Mexico, 12,769 are from Peru, 12,164 are from Guatemala and 9,034 are from Honduras. Of the overall total, 29 percent is under age 5 and approximately 75 percent is younger than age 34. More information can be found by watching: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=EGfvy8FtAyk .

“Montgomery County is fortunate to be a magnet for capable and talented people from around the world,” said Council President George Leventhal. “Immigration to this County is a compliment because it indicates that of all the places in the world to choose, this growing, vibrant community wants to make Montgomery County its home. And so we value the contributions of all our residents and the Latino community provides a special flavor to our cultural and economic life.”

# # #

Councilmember Nancy Navarro Schedules Committee Meeting with Montgomery Board of Elections to Discuss Selection Process for Early Voting Sites in County

After Changes to Established Early Voting Sites, Government Operations and Fiscal Policy Committee Worksession on Oct. 1 Will Address Actions to Encourage Voter Participation

ROCKVILLE, Md., Sept. 25, 2015—Montgomery County Councilmember Nancy Navarro, who chairs the Council’s Government Operations and Fiscal Policy (GO) Committee, has scheduled a worksession with the County Board of Elections at 9:30 a.m. on Thursday, Oct. 1, to address steps that can be taken to encourage voter turnout after the board relocated two established early voting sites in Montgomery County.

The GO Committee, which includes Councilmembers Sidney Katz and Hans Riemer, will meet in the Seventh Floor Hearing Room at the Council Office Building in Rockville at 100 Maryland Ave. in Rockville. The meeting will be broadcast live on County Cable Montgomery (Cable Channel 6 on Comcast and RCN, Channel 30 on Verizon) and will be streamed live via the Council web site at: www.montgomerycountymd.gov/council .

On Sept. 21, the County Board of Elections, which became controlled by a Republican majority after the election of Governor Larry Hogan, voted to relocate two popular and heavily utilized early voting sites in Montgomery County. As a result of the 3-2 vote, the early voting sites at the Marilyn Praisner Community Center in Burtonsville and the Jane Lawton Community Recreation Center in Chevy Chase were eliminated. New early voting sites will be the Longwood Community Recreation Center in Brookeville and the Potomac Community Recreation Center on Falls Road.

Councilmember Navarro said the board’s decisions relocated two easily accessible voting centers in densely populated areas with sites near areas that are sparsely populated and difficult to reach by public transportation.

“We all know that voter turnout is an issue across the nation, and Montgomery County is no exception,” said Councilmember Navarro. “Moving early voting locations away from where people live is only going to discourage participation. Voting is one of the most fundamental civic duties in our democracy. Part of my job is to make sure that our residents have access to polling places in all parts of Montgomery County.”

All early voting sites are open to all voters across the County. Approximately 8,000 voters cast ballots at the Burtonsville and Chevy Chase early voting sites in the 2014 general election. In that election, Burtonsville was the second busiest early voting center in the County, behind the Silver Spring Civic Building.

“In 2013, I garnered unanimous Council support to create the Right to Vote Task Force,” said Councilmember Navarro. “The resolution establishing the Task Force directed the Montgomery County Board of Elections to select early voting sites that are ‘easily accessible by public transportation’ to help ensure that all eligible voters, regardless of income or access to a vehicle, have an opportunity to cast a ballot. The actions by the Board of Elections move us away from this goal. Now, it is time to roll up our sleeves and do everything possible to educate the public about these changes.”

# # #

Councilmember Nancy Navarro on Fatal Shooting at Wheaton Metro Garage

ROCKVILLE, Md., July 15, 2015—Councilmember Nancy Navarro, who represents District 4, which includes Wheaton, released the following statement about the fatal shooting at the Wheaton Metro Garage that occurred last night:

My heart goes out to the family of the victim of last night’s homicide in Wheaton. Montgomery County Police Department (MCPD) did a tremendous job responding to this incident and quickly bringing the suspects into custody.  MCPD continues to investigate the circumstances that precipitated this incident.

Montgomery County is making a tremendous infrastructure investment over the next few years in Wheaton, which on the whole, continues to be an extremely safe place to live, work and raise a family. With Wheaton redevelopment kicking off in just a few short months, it is more important than ever that our residents are safe and secure in their community.  I have tremendous confidence that our outstanding police force, working in partnership with the Metro Transit Police Department, will redouble their efforts to keep Wheaton safe.  We will not let one violent incident deter us from making Wheaton—and all of mid- and east-Montgomery County the best it can be.

# # # #

 

Montgomery County Council Unanimously Approves Earned Sick and Safe Leave Bill

Legislation Will Enable Workers to Earn Up to 7 Days Paid Leave Per Year for Reasons of Health, Domestic Abuse

 

ROCKVILLE, Md., June 23, 2015—The Montgomery County Council today unanimously approved Bill 60-14 that will require most employers doing business in the County to provide earned sick and safe leave to employees for work performed in the County. Enactment of the bill makes Montgomery County one of the few local jurisdictions in the nation to have some form of required sick and safe leave requirements for employees.

Earned sick and safe leave is paid leave that can be used for the injury or illness of the employee or the employee’s immediate family. It also can be used for time off needed due to domestic violence suffered by the employee or a member of the employee’s immediate family.
Under Bill 60-14, an employer could provide any type of paid time off that can be used by the employee for each of the purposes outlined in the bill to satisfy the earned sick and safe leave requirement. The bill applies to an employee, but not an independent contractor. The bill also excludes an employee who works less than eight hours a week.

The bill will take effect on Oct. 1, 2016, for most employees it covers.

Council President George Leventhal and Nancy Navarro were the lead sponsors of Bill 60-14. Councilmembers Marc Elrich, Tom Hucker, Hans Riemer and former Councilmember Cherri Branson were co-sponsors. Councilmembers Roger Berliner, Nancy Floreen, Sidney Katz and Craig Rice also voted to enact the bill.

“This policy will improve the lives of working families in our County where more than 100,000 workers currently lack even one paid sick day,” said Council President Leventhal. “More parents will be free from making the heart-wrenching choice between taking care of a sick child or losing a day of pay.”
Bill 60-14 will require an employer to provide earned sick and safe leave at a rate of at least one hour for every 30 hours an employee works in the County up to 56 hours in a calendar year. An employee would have to be paid for earned sick and safe leave at the same rate, and with the same benefits, as the employee normally earns. A tipped employee would have to be paid at least the County minimum wage for each hour the employee uses earned sick and safe leave.

The Council approved an amendment to help small businesses. That amendment provides that an employer with fewer than five employees would have to provide an employee with up to 32 hours of paid sick and safe leave per year plus an additional 24 hours of unpaid sick and safe leave.

“In a progressive and civilized society, workers deserve basic rights,” said Councilmember Navarro. “One of those rights is the ability to take paid, earned leave when they are sick, to care for a loved one, or during a time of crisis. I am pleased Montgomery County is leading once again by passing this bill that reflects our values and brings meaningful protections to thousands of our lowest income and most vulnerable workers.”
At a Jan. 29 public hearing on Bill 60-14, 19 of the 28 speakers supported the bill.

Although the states of California, Connecticut and Massachusetts have instituted some forms of earned sick and safe leave requirements, Montgomery will be joining a handful of local jurisdictions to have such legislation. Those other jurisdictions include the District of Columbia; Jersey City and Newark in New Jersey; New York City; Portland, Ore.; San Diego; San Francisco and Seattle.

Maryland State legislation to mandate earned sick leave was introduced in the General Assembly in 2014 and 2015, but was not enacted.

The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics reported that in 2014 61 percent of workers in private-industry businesses had paid sick leave, while 89 percent of workers in state and local governments have paid sick leave. Private-industry businesses with fewer than 100 workers provide 52 percent of workers with paid sick leave; in contrast, private employers with more than 100 employees provide 72 percent of employees with paid sick leave. Private industry provides 74 percent of full-time workers with paid sick leave, whereas only 24 percent of part-time workers received the benefit. Nonunion employees are less likely to have paid sick leave than union employees.

Montgomery County’s Innovative Interactive Fiscal Plan Wins Awards from PTI, NACo

Online ‘Budget Tool’ Allows Users to Input

Alternative Revenue and Expenditures, Shows How They

Would Impact County’s Six-Year Budget Projections

 

ROCKVILLE, Md., June 9, 2015—Montgomery County’s Interactive Fiscal Plan, which features an innovative web-based “budget tool” that enables users to input alternative revenue and expenditure assumptions in the County’s six-year budget projections and see the potential impact, has been awarded a 2015 Achievement Award from the Public Technology Institute (PTI) and a Civic Education and Public Information Achievement Award from the National Association of Counties (NACo).

The Interactive Fiscal Plan tool, which was a combined project of the Office of Legislative Oversight and the County Council’s Information Technology staff, was launched in December 2014. Like an online mortgage calculator—which many people have become familiar with in recent years—the budget tool allows users inside government and from the public to experiment with figures of their choosing. This exercise helps users to better understand how structural changes in the County’s six-year budget projections can be impacted by significant changes in revenue or expenditures. The plan can be accessed
here.

The project was inspired by the Council’s request for development of a method to measure the effect of structural budget changes. Led by its Government Operations and Fiscal Policy (GO) Committee, the Council wanted the interactive budget tool to help users better understand how recurring revenue and expenditure patterns influence the ability to achieve balanced budgets in future years.

“My committee has prioritized open government and the innovative use of data,” said Government Operations and Fiscal Policy Committee Chair Nancy Navarro. “I am incredibly proud of the outstanding work of the Office of Legislative Oversight for this recognition. The Interactive Fiscal Plan is about ensuring our residents not only receive excellent services from the County, but also understand how the decisions policymakers have to grapple with impact those services. I look forward to working with my GO Committee colleagues in seeking out new ways we can create the most transparent and effective government in the nation.”

Each year, the Council approves a six-year fiscal plan. The plan includes operating budget revenue and expenditure estimates for the upcoming six fiscal years based on projections prepared by the County’s Department of Finance and Office of Management and Budget. The Interactive Fiscal Plan measures the effect of inputting alternative revenue and expenditure assumptions. The budget tool calculates the cumulative six-year effect of adjusting the assumed average annual rate of change for major plan variables.

For example, if a user wants to assume more funding should go to a particular agency or program, the budget tool shows that the plan is unbalanced until the user determines from where an equal amount of funds should be decreased. A user could insert numbers showing projected revenue to the County being greater or lesser than the plan indicates—and would then show how the overall projections would be impacted by those assumptions.

“The Interactive Fiscal Plan is a great example of how technology can make government more transparent and user friendly,” said Councilmember Hans Riemer, the Council’s lead member for digital government. “Since the Council passed my Open Data Law in 2012, Montgomery County government has made great strides in making our data easily available and providing it in useful formats that people can understand. Stay tuned for many more developments as we continue to find new ways to use and present data to engage and educate our residents.”

The budget tool helps bring reality and accountability to the budget process. There are constant demands for increased funding in areas important to certain agencies or groups, but those demands often are not accompanied by plans that would show the impact on other areas of the budget.

“We used the budget tool this spring when Interim Superintendent of Schools Larry Bowers, Montgomery College President DeRionne Pollard and I conducted a series of forums around the County to explain the budget process to residents,” said Councilmember Craig Rice. “It quickly proved to be a great help in what we were trying to accomplish and it demonstrated how this could assist anyone who is interested in any aspect of the County operating budget.”

The Public Technology Institute actively supports local government executives and elected officials through research, education, executive-level consulting services and national recognition programs. It is the only technology organization created by and for cities and counties. At its Oct. 11-13 Local Government CIO Summit in Salt Lake City, PTI will recognize the Interactive Fiscal Plan, as well as Montgomery County’s initiatives regarding its GIS Web Portal, its Criminal Justice Case Management System, its Financial Transparency Suite and its Tax Assessment System.

The NACo Award will be presented on July 12 at NACo’s Annual Conference and Exposition in Mecklenburg County, N.C.

The Interactive Fiscal Plan was created through the efforts of Aron Trombka of the Office of Legislative Oversight; Michelle Parsons, Nic Berry and Namita Acharya of the Council’s IT office; Shan Balasubramanian and Veda Raman of the Department of Technology Services; and Rockville-based contractor Technology Digest Inc.

# # # #

Montgomery Procurement Task Force Seeks Input from Businesses Through Survey

Information Will Assist Council-Appointed Task Force in

Formulating Recommendations to Improve System

ROCKVILLE, Md., June 5, 2015—The Montgomery County Procurement and Regulations Task Force, which was appointed by the County Council in its efforts to improve the County’s procurement operations, is seeking input from users of the system. The survey seeks opinions about many aspects of the system, including the complexity of the solicitation process and the length of time it takes the County to respond to solicitations.

The task force is asking that responses to the brief online survey be completed by Tuesday, June 30. The survey can be found here.

Anyone experienced with the procurement system is invited to respond to the survey. The task force will use the survey as part of its study, and ensuing recommendations to the Council, on what works in the County’s current procurement and what needs improvement.

“Our task force has met with a variety of County officials from the County Executive to the County Council to employees in County departments,” said David Robbins, who chairs the seven-member task force. “But we need business community input to recommend meaningful reforms. This survey is focused on business community input, and asks open-ended questions to make sure we understand what is working and what improvements are needed.”

The task force is scheduled to have its recommendations to the Council by Sept. 15.

“The Procurement Policies and Regulations Task Force is doing an outstanding job ensuring the views of all stakeholders are represented in their deliberations,” said Councilmember Nancy Navarro, who chairs the Council’s Government Operations and Fiscal Policy Committee. “This survey will give voice to business owners who interact with the County’s procurement process on a regular basis. I look forward to seeing the results of the survey and the recommendations of the task force this fall.”

More information about the survey and the task force can be obtained by calling 240-777-7922.

The Council has also appointed another task force looking at how the minority/female/disabled (MFD) and local small business community is being served by the County procurement process. That task force also is scheduled to give a report and recommendations to the Council in September.

# # # #

Montgomery Council Unanimously Approves Bill 11-15 to Expand Child Care

Councilmembers Navarro and Riemer Partnered In Legislation to Provide Quality Enhancement Initiative And Create Strategic Plan for Child Care Expansion 

ROCKVILLE, Md., May 5, 2015—The Montgomery County Council today unanimously approved Bill 11-15 that will expand affordable, quality child care services in the County and develop a strategic plan for child care services. 

Bill 11-15 is the Child Care Expansion and Quality Enhancement Initiative. The bill’s lead sponsors are Councilmembers Nancy Navarro and Hans Riemer. The bill was co-sponsored by Councilmembers Roger Berliner, Marc Elrich, Nancy Floreen, Tom Hucker, Sidney Katz, George Leventhal and Craig Rice.

The approved legislation requires the County Executive to designate a Child Care and Early Education Officer in the Department of Health and Human Services (DHHS), establishes the Early Childhood Advisory Council and creates a Child Care Expansion and Quality Enhancement Initiative focusing on family child care providers.

 The new DHHS policy officer must develop a data-driven strategic plan that defines the child care needs in the County and maps a path to universal access to affordable, quality care. The policy officer must also participate in the selection process for providers located in public spaces.

 “My top priority has been, and continues to be, ensuring our lowest-income and most vulnerable families have access to quality, affordable child care,” said Councilmember Navarro, who as an appointee to the President’s Commission on Educational Excellence for Hispanics serves on the Early Childhood Education Committee.  “The first five years of a child’s life is key in predicting future academic success. Every dollar we spend toward quality early care and education will save taxpayers 10-fold in the future. Closing the academic achievement gap does not begin in kindergarten—it starts with quality child care at a licensed home or center.

“The Child Care Expansion and Quality Enhancement Initiative is an important step toward County Government prioritizing early care and education by creating new structures—a high-level DHHS position, a coordinating council and culturally competent support for family child care providers. The Council’s approval of Bill 11-15 reinforces our commitment to investing in our future.”

Bill 11-15 requires DHHS to hold informational sessions for prospective family child care providers about how to become licensed providers. It also requires DHHS to provide the following services to family child care providers: technical assistance and business training; site-visits, if requested; feedback and assistance to obtain licenses; and services in Spanish and other languages.

The bill also requires that an annual report be delivered to the Council by Feb. 1 of each year about the activities, accomplishments and plans of DHHS related to the initiative and an assessment of the County’s child care needs. 

“As fast as child care costs are rising in Montgomery County, this need is becoming as big of an affordability crisis as higher education has already become,” said Councilmember Riemer. “How can families really be expected to pay for child care, save for college and retirement and have anything left?  In his 2015 State of the Union Address, President Barack Obama said, ‘It is time we stop treating child care as a side issue, or a women’s issue, and treat it like the national economic priority that it is for all of us,’ I couldn’t agree more.  And I know there are a lot of dads out there who will agree with me when I say that, as a man and a father, child care must be a personal priority for all of us.”

Councilmember Riemer had proposed that an independent Office of Child Care be created with the director reporting directly to the County Executive. However, DHHS suggested the option to create the new, senior-level policy officer position be created within the department. Councilmember Riemer and his colleagues agreed with DHHS’ approach.

There are 477 State-licensed child care centers in the County with the capacity to serve 32,879 children, but the demand for quality child care far exceeds the supply. Data from 2012, provided by the Maryland Child Care Resource Network, estimates that the number of children under 12 with mothers in the workforce in the County is 121,859.

 The goals of Bill 11-15 are to generate a strategic plan for child care services in Montgomery County, develop new partnerships, assist potential providers in navigating the procedures required for licensing, increase the number of children being served, and ensure quality child care programs.