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Two Things You Must Know About Sustainablity Funding

Two Things You Must Know about Sustainablity Funding Right Now

 Two important federal funding opportunities are available that require action right now.  You are undoubtedly aware that the American Power Act was introduced in the Senate on May 12.  Here are a few of the key provisions of the Act—and a notable omission. 

  • Targets have been set for the reduction of Green House Gas emissions.   By 2020, GHG emissions will be reduced from 2005 levels by 17%.  GHG emissions will be reduced by 83% by 2050.
  • A federal cap and trade program is not established, unlike the House version of the bill.
  • Annual funding in the amount of $7 billion is allocated for smart growth, natural gas vehicles and raising fuel economy standards.
  • Loan guarantees are provided to encourage nuclear power plants. 

Here’s the notable omission:  local governments.  In general, funding would be channeled to state governments.  That means programs such as the Energy Efficiency and Conservation Block Grants (EECBG) would cease to exist.   The action to be taken?  Local government elected officials should contact their senators and press for modification of the Act. 

The prospects for the legislation are uncertain.  It may not be heard or acted on this year.  For more information, go to http://www.climatecommunities.us/petition.html

TIGER II is an assured funding opportunity.  No, this has nothing to do with a world famous golfer by the same name.  The acronym stands for Transportation Investment Generating Economic Recovery; this is the second version of the program. 

Eligible funding activities include public transportation projects, highway and bridge projects, passenger and freight rail projects and port infrastructure improvements.  Of the $600 million available, $35 million has been set aside for transportation planning, which can be used for updating zoning codes and planning transportation corridors or regional transportation systems. 

The TIGER dollars are extremely competitive.  The first round was funded at $1.5 billion and received 1400 applications that totaled well over $60 billion.  TIGER II is funded at $600 million so competition will be even tougher. 

Here a few tips to make your application more competitive, based on projects that received funding in the first round and on comments from a recent webinar featuring Robert Mariner, Senior Policy Analyst with the office of the DOT Secretary.  While TIGER II is not funded through the Economic Recovery Act, job creation is important.  Projects in the $15-40 million dollar range will be more competitive, as DOT is looking to fund 18-20 projects nationwide.  DOT is also looking to fund a mixture of modal types, although there is no set formula.  Significant long term outcomes weigh heavily in the selection process.  A thorough cost-benefit analysis is critical to success.  Matching non-federal dollars make applications more competitive.  Finally, funds must be obligated by 12/2012, so the further along in the design and environmental review process that applicants are, the more competitive they will be. 

The action to be taken?  Pre-applications are due July 16 and must be made through www.grants.gov.  It can take 2-4 weeks to be approved to apply, so it is time to get started on the application process.  For more information, go to http://www.dot.gov/recovery/ost/tigerii/ .

Journey to Excellence: Excellence for Managers

Journey to Excellence: Excellence for Managers

As managers, we’ve learned that as part of our job, we should take advantage of those impromptu coaching moments that arise during the course of our day to day activities. When those spontaneous opportunities to help our staff grow professionally pop up, we use that time to reinforce good work or push our staff in the right direction.

Let’s expand that coaching maxim and add that we should watch for learning opportunities. Watch for those learning moments that arise when we least expect them.

Here’s an example of how I have turned my workouts at the gym into a learning experience. My first thirty minutes I spend lifting weights. For the next thirty minutes, I ride the stationery bike. To make my time on the bike go by faster, I take out my cell phone and play a video game.

Now you may be among those who think that cell phone video games are a waste of time or just something to do—very discretely–during a boring meeting. But whether the game designers have done it on purpose or not, I’ve had a lot of management lessons reinforced while playing my game.

Here is what I have learned:

Look at the big picture—the whole screen—before you make your first move. Take time to plan your strategy and then make the moves that are in line with that strategy. At the same time, watch for the low hanging fruit and claim it, but check back regularly to make sure you are following that big picture goal. Be flexible enough to modify your strategy when you need to.

Rewards are much more effective than reprimands. My game doesn’t have an “undo” feature. If I make a poor choice, I just don’t get as many points. If I make a move that isn’t allowed, all I hear is a little blip. On the flip side, my game gives me so many positive strokes when I do something right, it is addictive. Every time I score a point, I get a reward because I hear the sound of points scoring. When I score particularly well, a deep voice encourages me by saying GOOD! A few more points and I hear EXCELLLENT!! And when I make a really good move, INCREDIBLE!!! Those words of praise teach me how to play the game even better.

It takes a team to reach the goal. When I arrange the symbols in a certain order, they turn into stars. When correctly aligned, the stars are worth more points. But there are only a few stars on the screen at one time, so I have to work with the ordinary symbols to score points. As managers, we can’t rely just on our stars to help us reach our goals—we have to make use of all the players. That’s why team building is so important.

Don’t give hints too quickly and when you do give hints, make them subtle. My game tells me when there are no more moves. Sometimes, though, I search the screen and just can’t see the obvious move. At a timed interval, one of the symbols will twinkle at me, which is the hint I need to make my next move. But it is much more gratifying if I beat the clock and find that right move on my own.

Having fun makes work go faster. The thirty minutes I spend on the stationery bike fly by because I am distracted by the fun of playing my game at the same time. Having fun at work has the same impact, especially during these challenging economic times. Celebrating achievements and birthdays, establishing fun annual traditions or having an after hour’s get-togethers brings about that sense of camaraderie and enjoyment that strengthens work groups.

Measurement is important and leads to continuous improvement. How do I know when I am getting better at my game? The answer is simple—it keeps track of my score for me. I’m always trying to beat my best score. I have gotten as far level nine and am working to see just how many levels there are. If your organization participates in a performance management program, you know the value of measurement, meeting service targets and making process improvements.

Every level of the game gets more challenging. It requires more points to move from one level to the next, and that number grows exponentially. As the levels get higher, strategy becomes more important. The same is true in our organizations. As managers, we can’t just “show up” and be effective at our jobs. As we have moved up the organizational ladder, strategic thinking becomes more and more critical to our jobs

Luck helps. And as in real life, the more I practice and the harder I work, the luckier I get.

A closing thought: I can multi-task, riding away on the stationery bike, even pushing myself to go faster and faster. But my game improves the most when I focus on it alone. The management lesson is to spend some quiet time thinking about your game—your job—and how to improve your performance.

February 26th, 2010  in Management, Uncategorized 3 Comments »