August 26, 1998
Honorable Frank J. Ochoa, Presiding Judge
Santa Barbara County Superior Court
1100 Anacapa Street
Santa Barbara, California 93121-1107
Board of Supervisorsí Response to the 1997-98 Grand Jury Interim Final Report on Service Contracting
Dear Judge Ochoa:
At its regular meeting of August 25, 1998, the Board of Supervisors adopted the County Administratorís and County Counselís responses as the Boardís responses to findings 1 and 2 and recommendations 1 and 2 in the 1997-98 Grand Juryís interim final report on Service Contracting. A copy of the County Administratorís and County Counselís responses are attached to this letter.
In addition, the Board of Supervisorsí responses to finding 3 and recommendation 3 are as follows:
FINDING 3: The purpose of the on-line manual is to facilitate the enforcement of sound, centralized purchasing policies and regulations. The coded BPO/contract boilerplate text menu is not part of the on-line manual in INFONET service system.
RESPONSE: The Board of Supervisors agree with the finding.
RECOMMENDATION 3: The Purchasing Manager should integrate all automated products necessary to centralize purchasing policies, procedures, and regulations into a single automated system.
RESPONSE: The recommendation will not be implemented.
The County has 2 automated products:
The coded BPO/contract boilerplate text menu is run on a DOS based DataEase software system that must be used to generate contracts that are less than $25,000. The Purchasing Agent is responsible for creating all county contracts that are less than $25,000. Hence, this system is used by 3 buyers in the Purchasing Agent division of the General Services Department.
On the other hand, INFONETís "Purchasing On-Line Manual" must be used to generate contracts exceeding $25,000. The procedure, as it exists today, requires that any department in the County wanting a contract that exceeds $25,000 must create it themselves. All county departments have access to, and currently use, INFONET to generate contracts exceeding $25,000.
To put these 2 automated products into one automated system could lead to confusion by countywide users. Based on the Countyís current procedure, County departments only need access to INFONETís "Purchasing On-Line Manual". Giving countywide access to the Coded BPO/contract boilerplate text menu, may lead users to believe they should use this system for contracts over $25,000. This misuse could cause delays and, consequently, increased costs.
More importantly, however, is discussion and analysis of the role and purpose of the Countyís Purchasing Agent. The General Services department and the Contracts Committee should explore ways to more effectively utilize the contracts and procurement expertise in the Purchasing Agent Division. It should be noted that the framework for procurement guidelines is set by State legislators which the County must follow.
Government Code 25501(a) states that the purchasing agent may purchase for the county and its offices all materials, supplies, furnishings, equipment, livestocks and other personal property. While no dollar threshold is specified for these items, maybe the Board of Supervisors should approve contracts exceeding, for example, $100,000 instead of our current procedure where the Board approves contracts exceeding $25,000. And, maybe the Purchasing Agent (i.e., the procurement experts) should prepare all contracts exceeding $25,000 while the departments should handle those contracts under $25,000. If these changes are made, the number of board letters going to the Board would be reduced and the Board of Supervisorsí time in reviewing and approving County contracts would be reduced.
Government Code 25502.5(a) states that the Board of Supervisors may authorize the purchasing agent to engage independent contractors to perform services for the county when the aggregate cost does not exceed $100,000. What is the purpose/benefit of submitting annual, on-going contractor on payroll contracts to the Board of Supervisors for review and approval?
The Board, as indicated in the responses, reserves its discretion to consider each item in light of further Board discussion and analyses. Consequently, adoption of the responses should not be considered a binding commitment to implementing any particular item.
The Board greatly appreciates the work the Grand Jury did on this topic.
Chair, Board of Supervisors
cc: Tim Putz, 1997-98 Grand Jury Foreman