Report 2009-118 Highlights - August 2010
Department of Developmental Services:
A More Uniform and Transparent Procurement and Rate-Setting Process Would Improve the Cost-Effectiveness of Regional Centers
Our review of the Department of Developmental Services (Developmental Services), as well as six of the nonprofit regional centers coordinating services and supports for Californians with developmental disabilities (consumers), revealed the following:
- Developmental Services systematically audits and reviews whether services purchased for consumers are allowable but, at the time of our fieldwork, generally did not examine how regional centers establish rates or select particular vendors for services.
- Although the regional centers could improve their documentation of procedures in a few areas, most of the expenditures we reviewed for the purchase of services appeared allowable and were properly supported by vendor invoices.
- Regional centers, however, do not always document how rates are set, why particular vendors are selected, or how contracts are procured; thus, in some cases, the ways in which regional centers established payment rates and selected vendors had the appearance of favoritism or fiscal irresponsibility. For example, we found the following:
- A regional center procured $950,000 in services from a transportation provider under a so-called "negotiated rate" that appears to have been calculated to incur a specific level of spending before the end of the fiscal year rather than to obtain the best value for the consumers the regional center serves.
- A different regional center negotiated a rate that was considerably higher than the rate of an existing vendor performing the same type of services and the vendor owner receiving the higher rate was the sister of the regional center's assistant director who approved the rate.
- Responses to a survey we conducted of regional center employees of locations we visited indicated that half of the roughly 400 employees who responded do not feel safe reporting suspected improprieties to their management.
- We could not systematically evaluate Developmental Services' process for responding to complaints from regional center employees, because, at the time of our fieldwork, it did not centrally log or track employees' complaints or have a written process for handling such complaints.