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Transportation board member questions selection process for new agency director

Date:

By Sean Whaley, Nevada News Bureau: A member of the state Transportation Department Board of Directors questioned today the proposed selection process for a new agency director.

Member Tom Fransway questioned whether the construction industry should be involved in the process of selecting the finalists to bring to the board for an appointment to replace Director Susan Martinovich, who is retiring on Sept. 6.

Fransway said the director and governor should pick the finalists.

At that point, the construction industry and others could get involved, he said.

“Because you are leaving with the highest of standing,” Fransway told Martinovich. “You know the job description. You know the ins and outs of the way the department is handled. And I am very comfortable with having you go through the applications, after HR (human resources) looks at them, along with the governor’s office, because this is a cabinet level position.”

Susan Martinovich, director of the Nevada Department of Transportation. / Nevada News Bureau file photo.

But other members of the board, including Gov. Brian Sandoval, supported the selection process and the involvement of the construction industry in picking finalists for the position.

Martinovich said the process outlined to the board at its meeting today is new, and is intended to make the selection transparent for the public.

Two members of the construction industry, one from northern Nevada and another from the south, would be among seven members of a selection committee to review the applicants and recommend at least three finalists to the board. Also involved in the review would be a representative of the Nevada Association of Counties, representatives of the northern and southern Regional Transportation Commission boards, a transportation industry member and a member of the governor’s staff.

Martinovich will also assist in the applicant review in a non-voting capacity.

The review process by the nominating committee will be subject to the state’s Open Meeting Law

Sandoval said he wanted the industry involved because otherwise it would be too much of a closed process if it was just the current director and governor’s office involved in picking the finalists.

“For me it’s important to have their input into the process,” he said. “So I’m trying to broaden it out. It is new. There is no doubt about this. But I appreciate the director’s comments about being open and transparent and having the opportunity to have as much input from the folks that are going to be dealing with the new director on a daily basis.”

The timeline is to accept applications for six weeks beginning April 9. The nominating committee will forward its selections to the board at its June 25 meeting. The candidates will be interviewed in a public meeting on July 23 at which time a new director will be selected.

Board member Frank Martin said having the construction industry involved in the selection is critical, “because they are a very integral part of what that department does every day.”

Attorney General Catherine Cortez Masto, also a board member, asked that it be made clear that having the construction industry involved in the selection process will not create an issue for the new director when contracts are awarded.

There is no way any currying of favor could occur in the process of awarding contracts, she said.

Martinovich agreed, saying the contracts are low bid and they are scrutinized by many officials within the agency before being approved by the director, and if they are over $5 million, by the board.

“So I don’t see an issue with that,” she said.

Audio clips:

Board member Tom Fransway says the director and governor’s office should pick the finalists:

040512Fransway :36 cabinet level position.”

Gov. Brian Sandoval says he asked that the construction industry be involved:

040512Sandoval :16 a daily basis.”

Board member Frank Martin says having the industry involved is critical:

040512Martin :12 does every day.”

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