The Intergovernmental Support Agreement (IGSA) between the El Paso Water Utilities (EP Water) and U.S. Army Garrison – Fort Bliss (Fort Bliss) is generating many hundreds of thousands of dollars in reduced costs for the military at Fort Bliss, creating contracting efficiencies for the Garrison, and generating hundreds of thousands of dollars in new non-tax revenue for EP Water. A win-win-win, and Partnership that Pays for Itself!
SONRI brokered every aspect of negotiating this agreement and provides ongoing support for its execution including conducting analyses for new Task Orders; facilitating workgroups to develop new opportunities; and providing coaching and advice to EP Water staff concerning intergovernmental relationships, Task Order execution, and billing and payments. At the Garrison’s request, SONRI is now facilitating a new workgroup to create only the second true “Blanket” IGSA in U.S. Army history, between Fort Bliss and EP Water, to substantially broaden both the scope and monetary benefits available to the Army and EP Water.
EP Water retained SONRI in 2020 to foster improved cooperation and partnering with Fort Bliss. EP Water wished to bring the benefits of IGSA to the El Paso region and undertake other partnership efforts with Fort Bliss. SONRI quickly developed a communications plan and initiated a working group between EP Water and Fort Bliss Department of Public Works (DPW) staff. The working group identified and analyzed opportunities both for the potential of generating savings for the Army and creating a new, non-rate payer revenue stream for EP Water. The resulting IGSA focuses on water, wastewater, and stormwater services, including water quality testing, geotechnical services, water resource study and planning, and infrastructure design and construction.
The Army issued the first Task Orders, at cost of $749,000, against the IGSA at the end of federal FY22. That year, six projects generated over $30,000 in savings for the Army, and greatly increased the speed and efficiency of contracting for services. Those projects generated $125,000+ in new revenue for EP Water.
Fort Bliss issued nine new task orders valued at over $2.3 million in FY23. Those projects saved the Army over $476,000 over traditional contracting methods by reducing the amount of red tape and paperwork required to execute contracts. EP Water saw their revenues grow to over $292,000.
In the summer of 2023, the Fort Bliss DPW staff asked EP Water if they would be willing to significantly widen the scope and raise the spending ceiling of the IGSA. After discussion, the team decided the best approach would be to generate an entirely new IGSA and make it a “Blanket” agreement. The EP Water/Fort Bliss Team turned to SONRI to help make all this possible. Under this approach, literally anything EP Water does for itself, its rate payers, or contracts out may be offered to the Army. This opens the door for a greatly expanded relationship between the El Paso community and Fort Bliss, generates savings and other benefits for the Army, and provides EP Water with new revenue that is not dependent upon annual budgetary constraint or water/wastewater rates. When approved in FY24, this Blanket IGSA will be only the second in Army history and will be the vehicle for tens of millions of dollars in transactions annually.
This truly innovative approach requires leadership, political will, patience, persistence, and perseverance. It makes Fort Bliss an even more attractive location for new and expanded military missions, because it lowers the cost of doing business at the post. It has also become the catalyst for new initiatives between EP Water and Fort Bliss, such as innovative land transactions. The Blanket IGSA approach holds the greatest promise for community support for military installations since the creation of the Monterey Model in the mid-1990s. The visionary leadership of EP Water, with strong community support and open-handed partnership from Fort Bliss, is transforming how communities and their installations interact and cooperate. SONRI is proud to have been the lynchpin for this effort!