|Multi Request||Public Contracts|
|Submitted||July 12, 2018|
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To Whom It May Concern:
I. Background Information
Contract administration is frequently a source of concerning behavior in the public sector. For example:
- In the aftermath of Hurricane Maria, a company with only two employees (Whitefish Energy) was hired hired by PREPA, Puerto Rico's public utility company, to restore power to the island at a cost of $300M. The contract had audit-proofing clauses and left little recourse for PREPA due to nonperformance. After 8 months, Puerto Rico did not have power fully restored and now Congressional and FBI investigations are pending.
- During an internal audit of the City of San Diego's contracting practices, the contract with office products supplier Staples was found to exceed the City Council's approved $2M annual threshold by a full $1M. Auditors found found insufficient financial controls and produced a further 60 pages of recommendations.
- The US Defense Contract Audit Agency (DCAA) found sustained exceptions for incurred costs audits 28.6% of the time in its 2017 Report to Congress.
- From 2010 to 2013, a Maryland Transit Authority employee allegedly used poor contracting oversight to siphon $6.3M from the state coffers.
- The City of Vallejo, CA was recently the victim of an alleged contracting kickback scheme run by the city's landscape maintenance manager, only uncovered in an FBI investigation. The kickback scheme occurred only a few years after the city was in Chapter 9 bankruptcy because of ballooning contractual obligations.
- In recent years, officials in the southern California cities of Bell, Irwindale, La Puente, Monterey Park, Pico Rivera, Temple City, and Vernon have been brought up on various public corruption charges.
While the vast majority of public contracting is done with integrity, bad actors and a lack of public knowledge have a disproportionate effect on the fiscal wellbeing and public trust of every level of government.
II. Requested Records
Pursuant to the California Public Records Act, I hereby request the following records:
1. Any and all executed contracts, memorandums of understanding (MOUs), and other equivalent agreements that are currently active, or were active within the last two years, other than standard employee agreements. Please provide a copy of the executed document as well as any addenda, amendments, attachments, exhibits, materials, and schedules.
2. Any and all contract template documents, for example, employee agreements, vendor agreements, master services agreements, nondisclosure agreements, or interagency cooperation contracts.
3. General policies and procedures for contract administration, including training materials and records used to instruct members of your agency in contract administration.
4. Any available process narratives, audit reports, or findings regarding contract administration covering the last two years.
I am happy to discuss any issues or suggestions to make fulfillment more manageable for your office.
If there are any fees for searching or copying these records, please inform me in advance of fulfilling the request.
I would also like to request a waiver of all fees in that the disclosure of the requested information is in the public interest and will contribute significantly to the public's understanding of how governments manage public money and the obligations to which they are entrusted.
Neither I, nor my company (Legal Robot), has any commercial interest in obtaining the requested information. Rather, we intend to use software to analyze and disseminate the requested information free of charge so that the public may identify patterns of bad behavior that, when eliminated, will benefit governments and the public alike.
We plan to enrich and cross-link the information we receive from multiple jurisdictions, and provide an exploratory interface for the public on the internet, for free. Because we consider this work to be Data Journalism, and we further expect to provide our analysis to other media organizations for additional print and online publication, I ask to be categorized as a representative of the news media. Upon request, I am happy to provide our analysis and any articles we write based on our analysis in advance of publication, though I cannot speak for other media outlets.
Thank you in advance for your anticipated cooperation in this matter. I look forward to receiving your response to this request within 10 calendar days, as the statute requires.
To Whom It May Concern:
I wanted to follow up on the following California Public Records Act request, copied below, and originally submitted on July 12, 2018. Please let me know when I can expect to receive a response, or if further clarification is needed.
Thanks for your help, and let me know if further clarification is needed.
I have not yet received a response to my public records request submitted on 7/23/18. As a reminder, the California Public Records Act requires an initial response within 10 calendar days. I understand the first part of my request is relatively large, so hopefully my comments here limit the scope of responsive documents. Also, please let me know if you need more time.
Regarding the first part of the request: I am looking at the last couple years of legal language, primarily in procurement documents, so plans, drawings, price lists or other attachments without legal terms are not necessary, if that helps. We can easily exclude agreements that use standard templates, if I can get a blank template (hence, request part 2).
Perhaps we can start with a subset of records that are already in electronic form? The actual signature is not important for my work, I am just looking for the version of the document that was executed. If any of the agreements are already online through agendas or meeting minutes, please direct me to those and we can easily exclude those documents from this request.
Finally, please feel free to email or call me at (415) 894-0240 if you have questions or need any clarification.
Dear Mr. Rubins,
I write to follow-up on the County's initial response to your June 30th PRA request; our initial response is copied below. As noted in that email, I have located and attached the following responsive documents:
1. The County's contract template. This version is for contracts over $100,000. There is another version for contracts of $100,000 or less, but the only difference is in the signature block.
2. The County's administrative memorandum regarding contracts for goods and services.
3. The County is currently in the process of revising its manual of policies and procedures regarding contract administration, as well as associated training materials. I have attached the prior version of the contract handbook, but note that the County's policies have changes since the handbook was published.
4. The most recent audit of the County procurement division.
I have also received your letter dated August 3, 2018, which was received by the County on August 6, 2018. In that letter, you mention your ability to extract agreements that are already online. To that end, agreements for services that exceed $100,000 are subject to approval of our Board of Supervisors and can be accessed through their agenda management system: https://bos.smcgov.org/board-supervisors-agenda-information.
Please feel free to contact me if you have any questions.
Melissa Duncan Andrikopoulos
Deputy County Counsel
San Mateo County Counsel's Office
400 County Center, Sixth Floor
Redwood City, California 94063