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Supervisors to review remaining work on reforms for county agencies

 

Last updated 8/28/2018 at 11:58am



RIVERSIDE - The Board of Supervisors today will examine what's left to do on a $41 million contract intended to reform how multiple Riverside County agencies conduct business and decide whether to transfer remaining tasks to the Executive Office in the interest of saving money.

Netherlands-based professional services firm KPMG was hired in October 2015 to audit public safety agencies to determine where operations could be improved to net savings and increase efficiency. A few months later, the company was retained to handle an institutional revamp for public safety, as well as most general government agencies.

Supervisor Kevin Jeffries was the lone vote against the initiatives, citing concerns about costs and harboring doubts that the work would achieve long-term gains.

County Chief Executive Officer George Johnson is slated to ask the board to approve a series of transitions that largely remove KPMG from the "workstream'' and put the Executive Office in charge of managing "the various transformation initiatives'' underway, according to documents posted to the policy agenda.

The EO stated in its brief to the board that the KPMG work had achieved $90 million to $100 million in savings during the last several budget cycles, primarily by denying or deferring requests for additional funding from the public safety units based on the reorganization that began in 2016. The projected annual savings going forward due to the changes implemented under KPMG's direction is $11.5 million, officials said.

If the board approves Johnson's request, the county would realize an immediate saving from the KPMG contract of $3.55 million, documents showed.

However, there would still be another $6.25 million owed the company over the contract wind-down period. Expenditures to date total nearly $32 million.

The EO noted that the KPMG work has "yielded significant benefits over the last two and a half years, transforming county government in the process, identifying and implementing more efficient, cost-effective ways to deliver services to constituents and departments.''

Sheriff Stan Sniff has challenged the overseas firm's pilot programs, questioning whether they could remake the sheriff's department into the streamlined, lower-cost agency that several board members and Executive Office administrators believed possible.

In January, Sniff blasted a program designed by KPMG to optimize deputies' work schedules and better prioritize calls for service in the Hemet and San Jacinto valleys. Sheriff's officials complained that overtime expenses had shot up nearly 9 percent and deployment times had increased an average three minutes after KPMG's initiative went live. The Executive Office countered

that the pilot program succeeded in hastening deputies' responses to "priority one calls,'' or crimes in progress, and abridged residents' wait times for service across the board, even on weekends.

The chasm between Sniff's view of the KPMG undertaking and the board's objectives in pushing for it culminated in an open confrontation between Sniff and Supervisor John Tavaglione, a steadfast backer of the company's actions, who at one point referred to the sheriff as a "child'' for his perceived resistance to the reformation plan.

Sniff, who is in a re-election battle for a third term, struck a milder tone in his last appearance before the board in June, vowing to work collaboratively on all fronts. Tavaglione is retiring in December, along with Supervisor Marion Ashley.

Candidates seeking both Tavaglione's and Ashley's seats have generally denounced the KPMG contract as a boondoggle. Service Employees International Union, Local 721, whose numbers include clerks, custodians, technicians, nurses and social workers, has criticized the contract as a monumental waste of taxpayer funds. The union is attempting to stop the county from imposing its last, best and final offer on a new collective bargaining agreement and is seeking salary and benefits increases for all members.

The Executive Office said that thanks to KPMG's work, the sheriff's department's records management, and jail information management systems have been upgraded, while efforts to improve jail utilization to conserve correctional space have had an impact, with projects to make the most of limited patrol deputy staffing in unincorporated areas moving forward.

The agency said that the District Attorney's Office and the Office of the Public Defender have benefited from KPMG pilot projects concentrated on shifting workloads to improve labor output.

According to officials, the Department of Human Resources has initiated plans to reduce duplication of duties by personnel, credited to KPMG. There are also "performance dashboards'' in place to ensure that "customers are receiving the best service possible,'' according to the EO.

The Department of Fleet Services, along with the Facilities Management Department, have updated computer hardware standards, changed employees' mobile phone plans and modified bulk purchasing practices to save funds, under KPMG's guidance, officials said.

The firm's recommendations based on analyses of operations in the Department of Animal Services, the Department of Public Social Services, the Economic Development Agency and the Department of Information Technology have further resulted in prospective cost-saving modifications, according to the Executive Office.

 

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