Cities Seek Delay to Review Ambulance Contract Procedures

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With county supervisors expected to make their final changes Tuesday to the county’s proposed ambulance contracting plan, several cities have written in to ask for a yearlong delay to the entire process.

“The most significant concern is that the timeline and approach of the RFP [request for proposals] lack true transparency and is inadequate in providing the public and our local agencies from having any true participation or involvement that would enhance the development of this process,” wrote Tustin City Manager Jeff Parker, who asked for a one-year delay.

In comments echoed by other cities, Parker complained that the county’s proposal fails to disclose the composition of the contract review panels, as well as the scoring criteria for contracts.

“Who will be making this determination, and based on what criteria, of whether or not any members of our community, or me as a City manager has the relevant direct job knowledge and/or expertise in order to participate on the evaluation committee?” Parker wrote.

The review panel specifications are also a concern to Aliso Viejo officials.

“There was no public discussion of minimum qualifications for service providers, response time standards or other quality control and performance measures that will be used to determine contract compliance,” wrote Aliso Viejo City Manager David Doyle.

Also writing to express concerns about the timeline and to seek an extension were representatives of Irvine, Rancho Santa Margarita, Yorba Linda, Los Alamitos, Laguna Niguel, Lake Forest, Cypress, Seal Beach and Stanton.

Supervisors are expected to respond at today’s meeting, where they plan to finish the draft of the request for proposals before sending it to the state for review.

County officials have previously said extending the current contracts beyond Sept. 1 is not an option, citing warnings from the state Emergency Medical Services Authority that any extensions would remove the county’s protection from antitrust lawsuits.

State EMS agency officials, meanwhile, didn’t entirely rule out granting extensions when asked about that possibility by Voice of OC.

“If an extension for exclusivity is requested by a local EMS agency, the EMS Authority would be [considering] the extension request on a case-by-case basis and review the factors that led to the local EMS agency requesting an extension,” wrote agency spokeswoman Jennifer Lim.

Tustin also asked that bidders be required to provide audited financial statements to prove their fiscal solvency and that the contract terms be changed to five years.

The supervisors are required to choose the top-ranked firms by five review panels, so the panels’ composition and the rating process are expected to be closely watched.

Supervisor Todd Spitzer has suggested placing supervisors themselves on the review panels, though state officials indicate that could be problematic.

“The RFP review panel needs to be an impartial [group] that does not have an interest in the final decision to award a contract for ambulance service,” wrote Lim.

“In a situation where a local governing body is issuing and approving a contract, having one of its members take part in the RFP review panel could be considered a conflict of interest.”

The discussion is scheduled toward the end of Tuesday’s supervisors meeting, which starts at 9:30 a.m. Click here for the correspondence to the county, which starts on page 131.

Please contact Nick Gerda directly at ngerda@gmail.com  and follow him on Twitter: @nicholasgerda.

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