Public Contracts (Nevada County Board Of Supervisors)

Dan Rubins filed this request with the Nevada County Board Of Supervisors of Nevada City, CA.

It is a clone of this request.

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Communications

From: Dan Rubins

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.

III. Fees

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.

Sincerely,

Dan Rubins

From: Nevada County Board Of Supervisors

Dear Mr. Rubins:

Please find attached a response to your Public Records Act Request dated and received July 20, 2018, which seeks a wide variety of contract-related documents involving thousands of pages. A hard copy of the attached has also been sent to you via US Mail.

Do not hesitate to contact our office if you have any questions. Thank you.

Cassandra Smith
Legal Secretary
Office of the Nevada County Counsel
950 Maidu Avenue, Suite 240
Nevada City, CA 95959
Tel. 530.265.1319
Fax 530.265.9840

CONFIDENTIALITY NOTICE: This communication with its contents may contain confidential and/or legally privileged information. It is solely for the use of the intended recipient(s).
Unauthorized interception, review, use or disclosure is prohibited and may violate applicable laws including the Electronic Communications Privacy Act. If you are not the intended recipient,
please contact the sender and destroy all copies of the communication.

From: Nevada County Board Of Supervisors

A letter stating the requester must agree to or prepay assessed or estimated fees in order for the agency to continue processing the request.

From: Dan Rubins

Thank you for your timely reply. I understand this is a large request and certainly do not want to disrupt regular business, so I am pleased to hear that many of the documents are already available online; we will start our research from there.

In lieu of part 1 of my request and to ensure we are downloading complete information from the county's website, would it be possible to get a comprehensive list of agreements covering the last two years?

Regarding part 2: I am looking for documents like standard employee agreements instead of requesting a high number of repetitive documents. Perhaps we could limit part 2 to documents that were actually used in the last 12 months?

Regarding part 3: Here, I am looking for the written policies, procedures, and instructions that get used in Contract Administration, so we can exclude presentations, transcripts, and any audio or video recordings.

Regarding part 4: Documents like process narratives, audit reports, and findings are important for this work, but presumably these documents are a small portion of the request, if any.

Please feel free to email or call (415) 894-0240 if you have questions or need any clarification.

Thanks,
Dan Rubins

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