Heeding civil grand jury criticism, Alameda County plans to tighten up the way departments evaluate and oversee contracts held by hundreds of private companies and nonprofits.
That would mean regular evaluations of 251 community-based groups that received $520 million in the 2012-13 budget for services that range from substance abuse rehab programs to AIDS prevention education.
In addition, the General Services Agency, which oversees large-dollar contracts, will begin developing a system to measure and track performance by vendors, such as food concessionaire Aramark and Corizon Health Inc., which provide services to Santa Rita Jail in Dublin and North County Jail in Oakland.
Alameda County supervisors in June awarded a $32 million contract extension to Corizon based on a two-page letter from the Alameda County Sheriff's Office, which administers the jails.
The GSA will begin working with staff to make sure evaluation information makes it into letters to the board recommending contract renewals under new guidelines proposed in response to the 2011-12 Alameda County civil grand jury report released in June. The 19-member panel is made up of nominees selected each year to act as an independent review board. The recommendations are not binding, but they require a formal response, which the county provided Tuesday during the regular Board of Supervisors meeting.
The grand jury also recommended increasing scrutiny of nonprofits
The county agreed to help the agencies develop a process for evaluating the community-based organizations based on their performance, including specific measures.
Underperforming organizations will receive training, as well as financial incentives if they are eligible. Staff will commit to more extensive on-site visits by staff as personnel levels permit. "The bottom line is you have to have results," Supervisor Keith Carson said.
The county, he said, has been aware of the problem for some time and began trying to improve criteria. Five years ago, organizations were put on notice that they would face stricter scrutiny. The county provided the carrot to the stick by offering training.
"It wasn't enough," Carson said. The training needed to be individualized based on the organization's needs and should have included follow-ups.
The county agreed with jurors' recommendation that the Measure A oversight committee evaluate how efficiently approximately $100 million in Measure A taxpayer dollars are being spent by the Alameda County Medical Center and other health-related programs.
Measure A tax dollars represent a "significant commitment of public funds," as Alameda County Administrator Susan Muranishi noted in the response letter. Measure A money, however, cannot be used to ensure organizations receiving the tax dollars are producing outcomes, Muranishi added.
The county also accepted the recommendation for stricter oversight of Joint Powers Authorities, but fell short of committing to any specific changes. Jurors were responding to the financial meltdown involving the Associated Community Action Program, a nonprofit created under a JPA.
The county committed to developing an inventory of all JPA agreements within six months and determining the appropriate role for county agencies and the auditor-controller.
Jurors also singled out the county's Camp Sweeney juvenile probation facility, which the jury wrote "remains outdated and in need of complete replacement."
In addition, they recommended consolidating the Oakland and Alameda County Sheriff's Office crime labs because of an "unacceptable backlog of forensic testing requests," particularly in Oakland.
Supervisors are looking at issues with Camp Sweeney and the crime lab and are open to exploring regional models and partnerships, spokeswoman Laura Lloyd-Jenkins said.