Tuesday, October 4, 2011

Alameda County Approves Short-Term Funding For Non-Profits In Procurement Dispute

Oct. 4, 2011 | The Alameda County Board of Supervisor may have successfully stanched a potentially vulnerable wound opened recently with calls of conflict of interest by several local non-profits in its procurement of health services contracts.

The board unanimously approved what is effectively bridge funding to nine drug and alcohol prevention non-profits. The additional funding will allow the groups to continue services until the end of March 2012.

Alex Briscoe, the director of Alameda County Health Services, said the additional funding will total $224,000 and come from unallocated dollars associated with Measure A.

In July, two local non-profits whose bids were previously rejected, appealed the county's decision based on the perception of impropriety by several county staff members who sat on decision-making committees involving the bids. The county auditor ultimately sided with the two groups and called for the procurement contracts to be nullified and restarted.

Two staff members from Supervisor Nate Miley's office and one from Supervisor Keith Carson's staff were cited. Miley's long-time girlfriend also heads one of the non-profits under consideration for drug and alcohol prevention funding.

On Sept. 20, the board led by a motion from Carson directed the Health Care Services Agency to create a criteria for providing short-term funding to bridge the gap between contract's expiration until March. Since many of the non-profits, up to 17 originally bid on the contracts, the exercise has potential to further stoke animus among the groups, many of whom have vocalized their unhappiness at board meetings the past three weeks.

"We have exhausted all modes of protest," said Lillian Galedo of the Filipino for Affirmative Action, which under the plan will receive an additional $24,250 in funding following $43,574 received under the former contract.

Briscoe said the agency's criteria for short-term funding includes identifying groups able to deliver services within the next six months in addition to being able to provide the services with the current funding level available to them. Priority was also given to programs that would otherwise be unable to provide any services at all without the additional funding.

Three previously unfunded non-profits received $24,250 in funding. Bay Area Community Services and Community Health for Asian Americans, both located in Oakland, received new funding as did New Bridge Foundation in Berkeley, which received $30,000.

Carson was particularly peeved Tuesday at the perception he was not included in the health care agency's discussion in terms of allocating the additional short-term funding. As the maker of the original motion asking the agency to revisit short-term funding, Carson scolded Briscoe for leaving him out of the loop. Briscoe said he had spoken directly to Supervisors Nadia Lockyer, Wilma Chan and Scott Haggerty last week regarding the proposal, but also with members of Carson's staff on numerous occasions. Carson told Briscoe this was not communicated to him by his staff.


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