By: Orange County Supervisor Todd Spitzer
On Tuesday, the Board of Supervisors approved nine recommendations from Supervisors Todd Spitzer and Janet Nguyen to improve County procurement processes for contracts under $25,000. Working in concert with the two Supervisors’ recommendations, the Office of the Performance Audit Director brought 30 additional recommendations on Countywide purchasing, which were approved by the Board of Supervisors on the same day. This week, the Grand Jury published four recommendations relating to the structure of County procurement and training procedures, which will be considered at another Board meeting.
“This is a unique opportunity to examine how we do County procurement,” Supervisor Spitzer said. “All of these things are coming together at the same time: the recommendations from Supervisor Nguyen and me, the recommendations from the Performance Auditor, and the recommendations from the Grand Jury.”
During the process to appoint a new Clerk-Recorder (to replace the previous Clerk-Recorder who had resigned to enter the State Assembly) in April 2013, significant controversy arose about various contracts under $25,000 that were issued by the former Clerk-Recorder.
In August 2013, Supervisor Spitzer revealed the initial results of a review of County contracts below $25,000. The review found that over a four-year period, more than 17,000 contracts totaling $85,000,000 had been issued by Department heads without any review by the Board of Supervisors, the County Executive Office, or the public. This averaged 4,200 contracts per year with an annual total of $21,000,000.
The Board of Supervisors then appointed Supervisors Nguyen and Spitzer to a subcommittee to make recommendations for the reform of procedures related to these contracts. The subcommittee recommendations focused on requiring more information about the contracts being made available and on increasing the transparency of the contracts. The subcommittee’s recommendations can be read here and here.
Working in parallel with the Nguyen-Spitzer subcommittee, the Office of the Performance Audit Director conducted a broader audit of Countywide purchasing. The Performance Auditor’s recommendations focused on increasing efficiencies in the Countywide purchasing processes. The Performance Auditor’s report and recommendations can be read here.
While the Nguyen-Spitzer subcommittee and the Performance Auditor’s work was underway, the Grand Jury also examined County procurement. The Grand Jury’s recommendations focused on the structure of County procurement and on increased training for County staff. The Grand Jury’s report and recommendations can be read here.
The recommendations from the Nguyen-Spitzer subcommittee and the Performance Audit Director were both published for public review on June 11 and approved by the Board of Supervisors on June 17. The Grand Jury published its recommendations for public review on June 16, with responses from the County due in August.