May 22, 1996
The Honorable William L. Gordon
Santa Barbara Superior Court
1100 Anacapa Street
Santa Barbara, California 93101
Re: Response to Grand Jury Report on Performance Audits
Dear Judge Gordon:
On April 3, 1996 the Santa Barbara County Grand Jury issued its Interim Final Report on Performance Audits. Later, I was informed by the Grand Jury that pursuant to Penal Code section 933(c) I should respond to Finding #1 and Recommendation #1(c). Please consider this my response as required by the above-cited Penal Code section.
The simple answer to the Recommendation is that we agree with it. The broader view is that the District Attorney's Office has two basic, but considerably different operations: (1) Criminal Operations; and, (2) The Family Support Division.
As to the Family Support Division, we have undergone annual state monitored performance audits for several years. This is a rather detailed management performance audit which measures our performance in ten designated performance areas. The results are published annually and are tied to the incentive rate. We are currently receiving the highest rate and one of only six counties to get maximum points. The Grand Jury was provided a copy of this year's results. I have attached a copy of this year's report and its results to illustrate the current evaluation process.
As to Criminal Operations, although we currently have systems in place to internally manage our performances and evaluate our processes, I have no problem with the recommendation that there be an outside agency once every five years. I believe such audits perform the dual functions of providing verification that what we are doing is correct and, in the alternative, have the potential to suggest improvements. My only reservation is that the audits be done by an organization which is familiar with the criminal justice system. It is a complicated system and many of the partners, such as the District Attorney's Office, are dependent upon other agencies for the manner in which certain things are done and whether or not certain performances can occur or do occur within certain time frames or in a certain manner. I believe it takes somebody with a systemwide viewpoint and experience to see the inter-relationship between the various departments in order to accurately and productively conduct the type of audit envisioned by the Grand Jury. Such an audit, when performed by an organization with that kind of experience could be a very valuable experience.
Very truly yours,
THOMAS W. SNEDDON, JR.