ORANGE COUNTY DISTRICT ATTORNEY’S OFFICE
February 2, 2015
The Honorable Todd Spitzer, Chair Board of Supervisors, County of Orange Hall of Administration 333 West Santa Ana Blvd., 5th Floor Santa Ana, CA 92701
Dear Supervisor Spitzer:
I am once again disappointed in your uninformed and unproductive public comments made during the last Board of Supervisors meeting held on Jan. 27, 2015. As I have stated both verbally and in writing on many occasions, you are welcome to contact me, or any of my top managers, at any time if you have any questions or criticisms about any actions taken by the Orange County District Attorneys Office (OCDA). When you use the power of your position to grandstand, or “ready, fire, aim” with unsubstantiated and misleading allegations, the People are ultimately harmed because they are not getting the true information. Releasing misinformation to the public is bad government. I respectfully urge you to obtain facts before you speak and to discontinue unmeritorious attacks that affect the hard working professionals of the OCDA, and ultimately the public.
At the end of the last Board meeting, without requesting any information, you launched an ambush alleging impropriety on the merits of hiring an outside firm to conduct background checks on new employees and the impartiality of the bidding practice. Anyone whose true motives are placed on transparency and savings for taxpayers would not make such accusations and bold statements in the public without doing due diligence in gathering information.
You made allegations in your statement that the ASR was somehow improper because Chief Craig Hunter knew and worked with an owner of the winning bid, former Anaheim Police Department (APD) Captain Steve Rodig, a principal of RCS Investigations and Consulting LLC (RCS).
A simple call from either you, or a staff member would have revealed the following information that shows that the practice of outsourcing background checks promotes good government and the process of hiring this firm was fair and transparent. This is probably the reason why many law enforcement departments increasingly now use an outside firm to conduct background checks and uses the services of RCS. This firm has contracts with approximately 70 law enforcement agencies, including many cities in Orange County — Anaheim, Buena Park, Fountain Valley, Fullerton, Huntington Beach, Irvine, La Palma, Newport Beach, Orange, Placentia, Santa Ana, and Seal Beach. The practice of outsourcing background checks is increasingly becoming a common practice.
Had you conducted simple due diligence, you would have learned the following:
- For obvious reasons, the OCDA must complete, accurate and thorough backgrounds on their employees, especially on District Attorney Investigators and deputy district attorneys.
- The OCDA, like all law enforcement departments, struggles with staffing issues and investigating new and existing crimes should be and is its first priority. At the same time, getting complete and timely backgrounds done is necessary. Backgrounds are unique investigations and experience in conducting backgrounds is critical. Positions could remain unfilled due to staffing shortage and prioritizing of resources. If it were to be kept in-house, it could take three to four months. RCS’ contract requires them to finish a background investigation in 30 days.
- The OCDA did an easy cost analysis. Outsourcing backgrounds saves taxpayer money. Backgrounds generally take approximately 30-40 hours to complete, because they require interviews, travel time, document review, proof reading, and reprographics. A background normally costs an Investigator 3000-4000 or a Supervising Investigator 3300-4400.
- If the County were to hire new Investigators to conduct backgrounds, then the County would be required to retain those who were hired even if the need decreases, and those investigators would be stuck with unnecessary salary and pension liabilities.
- A public bid was advertised complying with all County rules. RFP procedures were followed. Only two firms submitted a bid. The winning firm (RCS) bid 1,700 flat rate. The losing bid was 2,200 to ,400 with possible additional charges.” The Los Angeles firm who did not get the bid had never done police background checks.
- Chief Hunter served 31 years in municipal law enforcement before he was hired by the OCDA. He rose to the rank of Deputy Chief at APD, Orange Countys largest municipal police agency. He was hired, not just because of his extensive background in law enforcement, but because he has participated in numerous multi-agency task forces and maintains great working relationships with virtually everyone in law enforcement. There arent many police executives in Orange County that he does not know personally. Chief Hunter did work with the owners of RCS, who where police managers at APD before their retirement but has never worked with Randy Sorley, the OCDA retiree,
- APD has saved over 1 million after contracting out background checks.
- Orange County received a better price than APD for background checks.
- Chief Hunter was not part of the RFP process or scoring
By insinuating improper relationships with regards to this bid and questioning the fiscal propriety of outsourcing background checks, you stated that were not running a 6 billion dollar County like Some kid Operating a lemonade stand.” I agree that conducting business on behalf of the people of Orange County should be professional, transparent, and fiscally sound. I also believe that before One assumes anything, and even worse, makes accusations, one should first gather seminal information.
Once again, I urge you to contact me or any manager in my Office should future issues arise. I believe public discourse is proper and important when we have been entrusted with the publics money and confidence. You hold a very important office, and what you say in public matters, especially when the accusations are unfounded and besmirch people’s reputation.
Tony Rackauckas District Attorney