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Jeff Mohlenkamp Already Tackling Challenges As Nevada’s New Budget Director

CARSON CITY – When Jeff Mohlenkamp decided to accept the job as Nevada’s newest budget director, he knew going in it was going to be a challenge.
The state’s economic slump continues to be a drag on funding government services, although gaming and sales tax revenues have shown some improvement in recent months.
The Department of Administration, which Mohlenkamp oversees as a significant part of his duties, is in the midst of a major merger, with the former Departments of Personnel and Information Technology coming under the agency’s umbrella.

And Mohlenkamp, who has the job of preparing the governor’s budget every two years for submission to the Nevada Legislature, will now be required to use a radically different process, called performance-based budgeting, to prepare the governor’s spending plan.
But after five weeks on the job, Mohlenkamp, 48, who has a varied background in state service dating back to 1986, is enjoying the challenge offered to him by Gov. Brian Sandoval, who named him to the position in June. Former budget director Andrew Clinger left following the end of the 2011 legislative session to become Reno city manager.
Mohlenkamp said his background and experience appeared to fit the bill for Sandoval.
“It’s a daunting task in some regards but I find it to be very exciting,” he said. “The challenges are many. It’s working right with the governor and his staff to achieve some of the over-arching goals of the state.”

Jeff Mohlenkamp, Nevada's new budget director. / Photo: Sean Whaley, Nevada News Bureau.

While times are tough, it is those very challenges that can push those in charge to step up and think critically about delivering state services in the most effective way, he said. But that process should be happening in good times as well.
“Sometimes tough times force us to modify the way we do business and look carefully at the way we do business, but it really is something we should be doing not only in difficult times but all the time,” Mohlenkamp said.
The state should be well served by the Legislature’s approval of a measure requiring performance-based budgeting, he said. The new process, also called priorities-based or activities-based budgeting, was partially implemented in the 2011 session by Clinger at the request of former Gov. Jim Gibbons.
Historically state agencies have just “rolled up” their program costs, based on increased caseloads and inflation, in preparing new budgets every two years. Programs were not regularly analyzed to determine if they were still needed.
“I think the ultimate goal, whatever terminology is used, is to move towards a different way of looking at state government and the functions it performs,” Mohlenkamp said. “And trying to evaluate what functions or activities government needs to be engaged in, and the relative value of those activities and those functions. It means looking at budgets through a different lens.”
The merger of the various former departments and agencies into the Department of Administration is a major challenge, but much of the work was already under way when he arrived on the job July 11, he said.
Bringing all the services the state provides to other agencies – from personnel needs to information technology – into one central agency, will provide the opportunity to improve services to the many different departments and divisions statewide, Mohlenkamp said.
“Looking at how we can better serve our customers is going to be one of my primary focuses,” he said.
Mohlenkamp’s career in state service began shortly after graduating from the University of Nevada, Reno, in 1986, with a degree in accounting and business management. He went to work for the Gaming Control Board, serving in different positions, including several years as a supervising investigator for the Corporate Securities Division. In this position he reviewed such major publicly held companies as Bally’s and IGT.
After 17 years with gaming, he went to work for the state Division of Internal Audits in 2003, doing performance based reviews of a variety of agencies, including many in the Department of Health and Human Services. From there he worked as the administrative services officer for the Division of Mental Health and Developmental Services, first working under former administrator Carlos Brandenburg, who Mohlenkamp cited as a mentor.
Brandenburg said he was fortunate to have Mohlenkamp as his ASO.
“What separated him from the previous ASOs that worked for me is that a lot of the ASOs strictly crunched the numbers,” he said. “Jeff separated himself because he not only crunched the numbers, and he was very, very good at that, but he also wanted to understand services.
“I knew for a fact that the governor was going to get himself a great, hardworking person,” Brandenburg said. “A person that looks at the numbers, and crunches the numbers, but he also tries to understand the service part of the system.
“What he tells you you can take to the bank,” he said.
Mohlenkamp then moved to the Department of Corrections, where he served as a deputy director of support services, overseeing inmate services, and legislative and financial matters.
Both with mental health and corrections, Mohlenkamp spent a lot of time at the Legislature testifying on budgets, experience that will no doubt serve him well when he has to present Sandoval’s next budget in 2013.
Mohlenkamp said he considers himself a straight shooter, giving lawmakers the information they need to make decisions.
“My goal is to answer straight questions with straight answers,” he said. “The legislative process isn’t always fun, but it’s always interesting.”
Sandoval said Mohlenkamp had the qualities he was looking for in a budget director.
“Jeff is somebody that I’ve known who has served the state with distinction for many, many years,” Sandoval said. “I first met him when he was at gaming when I was on the Gaming Commission. He has also worked at Health and Human Services, he’s worked at prisons, he has testified in front of the Legislature, he has a tremendous amount of experience with budgets, he is very proud of his state and very committed. And so all those attributes were what I was looking for in terms of a budget director.”
“Obviously Andrew Clinger is going to be somebody who is difficult to replace, but Jeff has already dived straight into the job and is doing a great, great service for the people of Nevada,” he said.
When he isn’t putting in long hours in his new job, Mohlenkamp said he likes to sail, scuba dive and spend time with his two children.

Audio clips:
New state Budget Director Jeff Mohlenkamp says performance-based budgeting will require a new type of analysis:
081811Mohlenkamp1 :26 and those functions.”
Mohlenkamp says state agencies should be evaluating their programs in good times as well as bad:
081911Mohlenkamp2 :13 all the time.”
Mohlenkamp says his new job is daunting but exciting:
081911Mohlenkamp3 :23 of their careers.”
Former MHDS Administrator Carlos Brandenburg says Mohlenkamp did not just crunch the numbers:
081911Brandenburg1 :20 to understand services.”
Brandenburg says Sandoval recruited a great budget director:
081911Brandenburg2 :15 of the system.”
Gov. Brian Sandoval says Mohlenkamp has served the state with distinction for many years:
081911Sandoval1 :26 a budget director.”
Sandoval says Mohlenkamp has dived right into the job:
081911Sandoval2 :11 people of Nevada.”


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Top Stories

UPDATE: Carson City sheriff's deputies are looking for two armed robbery suspects who made off with money from a convenience and liquor store on Rand Avenue near William Street on Saturday night.

Two men, described as white, dressed in black and wearing hoodies, are being sought. One man was described as heavy set, around six feet tall. The second suspect was described as weighing around 170 pounds and around 5 foot 9.

No one was hurt in the robbery. A black semi-automatic handgun was used and an undetermined amount of money was taken.

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V&T McKeen Nevada State Railroad Museum

To commemorate National Train Day the Nevada State Railroad Museum in Carson City will operate and offer rides on May 10 aboard Virginia & Truckee Railway's McKeen motor car No. 22.

The car entered service for the V&T on May 9, 1910, and was retired in 1945. No. 22 is the only restored and operable McKeen motor car in the world. In 2012, the Secretary of the Interior granted the No. 22 National Historic Landmark status, which recognizes the McKeen motor car's significance to United States history.

Ron Wood Family Resource Center honors John Hurzel of Carson City.

Ron Wood Family Resource Center in Carson City will honor John Hurzel for his service to children, families and the community on May 17, 2014 from 3 to 7 p.m. at the Governor's Mansion.

John is a long time resident of Carson City and contributes his efforts toward enhancing the lives of many through his culinary talents and selfless generosity. John offers his expertise to youth interested in the culinary arts and has been a supporter of many non-profit organizations with a healthy nutritional focus.

Carson City Fire Department was dispatched late this morning to a single-vehicle accident involving a moped rider in the 1900 block of College Parkway.

The adult female rider was said to have possibly fractured her ankle in the accident, reported to dispatch at 11:23 a.m. Carson City Sheriff's Office deputies were re-routing traffic around the scene.

No other vehicles appear to have been involved, according to deputies on the scene.

This week's Women to Women Nevada guests are Sally Zola and Brenda Silis. Both are involved in the Capital City Circles Initiative in Carson City.

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Christie Kranjcec, a fourth grade teacher at Dayton Elementary School, has won a $2,500 grant through Farmers Insurance's "Thank a Million Teachers" program, a national initiative that invites America to offer thanks to teachers, present and past, who have made a difference in their lives.  

Tree thinning and brush removal efforts as part of the Healthy Forest Restoration Project will resume in around South Lake Tahoe beginning Monday, according to the U.S. Forest Service.

The project will thin trees and brush on National Forest System land to improve forest health and reduce the risk of severe wildfire on the South Shore of Lake Tahoe.

Nevada’s unemployment rate remained at a seasonally-adjusted 8.5 percent for March, the same as February, and down from 10.2 percent year-over-year, according to figures released Friday from the state's Department of Employment, Training and Rehabilitation.

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The National Endowment for the Arts will award $768,500 in grants to the Nevada Arts Council, the Western Folklife Center, the Churchill Arts Council and the Nevada Ballet Theater as part of the second half of NEA’s fiscal year 2014 funding, Acting Chairman Joan Shigekawa announced Thursday.

The NAC was awarded $663,500 for the third year of its Partnership Agreement Grant, which supports the agency’s programs, outreach activities and various grant categories.

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Get an early start on Easter egg hunting Friday when Skyline Estates Senior Living hosts its Easter egg hunt for all ages at 2 p.m. Organizers invite children, parents, and grandchildren to attend. Skyline Estates Senior Living is located at 2861 Mountain St., in Carson City.

Restaurant inspections are made weekly by the Carson City Health and Human Services Environmental Health Division. 
Inspections through April 16, 2014 include several bars and lounges, convenience stores, restaurants and fast food restaurants.

See report below.

Lyon County Manager Jeff Page presented a State of the County report to the Lyon County Board of Commissioners at its Thursday meeting. Public safety tops the list of where 2014 general fund money is being spent, making up 42 percent, followed by general government expenditures, Lyon County judicial courts, culture and recreation and public works.

Economic development authorities, nonprofits and towns in rural Nevada that want to support rural business or create a revolving loan fund for business may now apply for USDA Rural Development’s Rural Business Enterprise Grant. An estimated $82,060 is available. Applications are due by June 30, 2014.

The purpose of the RBEG is to support the creation and growth of sustainable rural business opportunities and jobs. Eligible entities are public bodies, private nonprofit corporations, rural development authorities, and federally recognized tribes. Individual businesses are not eligible.

We just recently helped a client close down and liquidate a corporation that was no longer wanted or needed. Since the stockholder had invested in the corporation stock when it was formed and it had suffered losses, the stock qualified for a special tax benefit as Section 1244 stock.