By Orange County Supervisor Todd Spitzer
On Tuesday, the Orange County Board of Supervisors voted to improve oversight procedures over the Orange County Fire Authority’s (OCFA) bidding process for ambulance companies by requiring all correspondence sent or received by OCFA regarding the bidding process be transmitted to the County.
“This situation at OCFA clearly gave a perception of impropriety, and while it appears no laws were broken, this is a very serious situation that requires greater oversight,” Supervisor Todd Spitzer, also an OCFA Director, said. “The County Health Care Agency staff devised a proposal that allows greater County oversight to prevent this from happening again.”
On September 11, an OCFA staff member sent out an email relating to the RFP process for ambulances. The staff member invited incumbent ambulance providers to a meeting about ambulance issues with the expectation that it would focus primarily on the RFP; the meeting excluded any non-incumbent companies bidding on the ambulance services. Supervisor Spitzer had publicized the email at the October 1 Board of Supervisors meeting after learning of its existence.
OCFA Fire Chief Keith Richter apologized for the email and OCFA has begun to examine its process and strengthen oversight procedures to ensure this never happens again.
“The proposal developed by the Health Care Agency and adopted by the Board of Supervisors, with the support of the Fire Authority Board of Directors, represents a good compromise,” Supervisor Spitzer said. “OCFA Chief Keith Richter gave a very powerful apology and the Health Care Agency proposal gives us a path forward.”
OCFA is not a county agency but is actually a separate entity. However, OCFA’s authority over the bidding process for ambulance companies was actually a County responsibility that was delegated to OCFA in 2004 by the Board of Supervisors. On October 8, Supervisors had considered a proposal to remove the delegation and return that responsibility to the Emergency Medical Services program of the OC Health Care Agency but adopted the oversight procedure instead.