Public Contracts (San Luis Obispo County Board Of Supervisors)

Dan Rubins filed this request with the San Luis Obispo County Board Of Supervisors of San Luis Obispo, CA.

It is a clone of this request.

Status
Completed

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: San Luis Obispo County Board Of Supervisors

Mr. Rubins:

This shall serve as a response to your Public Records Act request, below, dated and received July 20, 2018.

The County maintains hundreds of thousands of pages of records, including contracts, among 37 different departments. Records are not indexed or segregated by the broad topics you have identified. Under the Public Records Act, the County is not required to review records throughout each department to determine whether a particular record constitutes the type of general subject matter you have requested. Such a request is overly broad, unduly burdensome, and would result in an unreasonable use of public resources.

However, because many of the records you are seeking are the subject of public meetings, these records may be identified by you via a search of past agendas and recorded meetings of the San Luis Obispo County Board of Supervisors which are publicly available online: http://www.slocounty.ca.gov/Departments/Administrative-Office/Board-of-Supervisors-Agenda.aspx
or at the County Clerk-Recorder's office located at 1055 Monterey Street, D120, San Luis Obispo, or online:
http://www.slocounty.ca.gov/Departments/Clerk-Recorder.aspx

Please note that some of the records which you seek such as templates and narratives and interagency agreements may be protected from disclosure pursuant to one or more exemptions applicable under the Public Records Act. Until particular records are identified with specificity, we are unable to determine whether an exemption applies. We reserve the right to raise all applicable exemptions and privileges until such time as you refine your request and identify records with more specificity.

Records from County departments are maintained in multiple databases. As an alternative to searching the public access databases described above, it may be possible for the County to create a software program to extract the requested records once you refine your search and describe the requested records with more specificity. Writing programs to extract records in 37 separate departments and extracting the records is conservatively estimated to take a minimum of 55 hours of staff time at a cost of $120.00 per hour. Direct cost of copying is $0.10 per page. These expenses are the responsibility of the requesting party as provided in California Government Code section 6253.9. The County will not waive these costs.

Upon receipt of your check payable to the County of San Luis Obispo in the amount of $6,600.00, we shall begin processing your request. Any funds not used for programming, extraction, or direct costs will be refunded to you. Costs in excess will be billed and must be paid prior to records delivery.

Sincerely,

[cid:image003.png@01D25BAB.962A3750]

Nina Negranti | Chief Deputy County Counsel | County of San Luis Obispo
1055 Monterey Street, Suite D320 | San Luis Obispo, CA 93408
Tel: (805) 781-5400 | Fax: (805) 781-4221 | Email: nnegranti@co.slo.ca.us<mailto:nnegranti@co.slo.ca.us>

The information contained in this e-mail, including any attachments, may be privileged, confidential, and/or exempt under applicable law, and covered by the Electronic Communications Privacy Act, 18 U.S.C. sections 2510-2521. This email is intended only for the use of the individual(s) or entity to which it is addressed and the privileges and exemptions are not waived by virtue of this having been sent by e-mail. If the person actually receiving this e-mail or any other reader of the e-mail is not a named recipient or the employee or agent responsible to deliver it to a named recipient, any use, dissemination, distribution or copying of the communication is strictly prohibited. If you have received this communication in error and/or are not the intended recipient, do not read, distribute or reproduce this transmission. Please contact the sender of this email at the above e-mail address and permanently delete the message and any attachments from your system.

San Luis Obispo County Board Of Supervisors
PRA Office
1055 Monterey Street Suite D430
San Luis Obispo, CA 93408

July 20, 2018

To Whom It May Concern:

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

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From: Dan Rubins

Ms. Negranti,
Thank you so much for your quick acknowledgment and for the detailed information you provided. I certainly do not want to be a burden on the county, so I appreciate your direction to the already published documents. This may be sufficient for the first part of my request, which was likely the most burdensome. To ensure we have all of the information of interest, would it be possible to provide the rules or thresholds for board approval?

Regarding the templates, narratives, and interagency agreements/MOUs: I understand that it is difficult and time consuming to identify the exceptions to every potential document. Instead, perhaps I could get a list of agencies that the county has entered into an interagency agreement or MOU with (not necessary if these are already in the public agenda) so I can follow up with specific and limited requests. Would that be acceptable?

Finally, the audit reports or findings related to contract administration are important for our work and I assume this part of my request would produce a limited number of documents from the Auditor-Controller's office. Can you confirm if there are any audit reports or findings related to contract administration in the last two years? Alternatively, should I request those directly from that office?

Thank you!

Dan Rubins

From: San Luis Obispo County Board Of Supervisors

Mr. Rubins:

Attached is the County's Policy for Contracting for Services adopted by the Board of Supervisors, effective November, 1981 and revised on December 12, 2017.

No record exists which lists the agencies who have entered into an interagency agreement or MOU with the County. It is likely the majority of such agreements or MOUs would have been the subject of a public meeting before the Board of Supervisors. We provided you with the link where prior agendas and minutes of the Board of Supervisors' meetings may be viewed.

Regarding audits, the Auditor/Treasurer/Tax Collector has confirmed that all audits are presented to the Board of Supervisors in public session. Reference to the audits are included on the Board meeting agendas. Additionally, audits are posted on the Auditor/Treasurer/Tax Collector's web page and may be accessed by the public.

Sincerely,

[cid:image003.png@01D25BAB.962A3750]

Nina Negranti | Chief Deputy County Counsel | County of San Luis Obispo
1055 Monterey Street, Suite D320 | San Luis Obispo, CA 93408
Tel: (805) 781-5400 | Fax: (805) 781-4221 | Email: nnegranti@co.slo.ca.us<mailto:nnegranti@co.slo.ca.us>

The information contained in this e-mail, including any attachments, may be privileged, confidential, and/or exempt under applicable law, and covered by the Electronic Communications Privacy Act, 18 U.S.C. sections 2510-2521. This email is intended only for the use of the individual(s) or entity to which it is addressed and the privileges and exemptions are not waived by virtue of this having been sent by e-mail. If the person actually receiving this e-mail or any other reader of the e-mail is not a named recipient or the employee or agent responsible to deliver it to a named recipient, any use, dissemination, distribution or copying of the communication is strictly prohibited. If you have received this communication in error and/or are not the intended recipient, do not read, distribute or reproduce this transmission. Please contact the sender of this email at the above e-mail address and permanently delete the message and any attachments from your system.

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