Riverside County supervisors will consider Tuesday whether to extend a contract with a professional services firm for another two years — at an estimated cost of about $20 million — to stay on track with operational reforms intended to make multiple departments more efficient and cheaper to run.
Netherlands-based KPMG was retained by the Board of Supervisors in October 2015 to come up with solutions on how to improve public safety operations to net cost reductions, and roughly five months later, the board voted to expand the firm’s scope by including general government agencies in the audit.
KPMG was then put under contract to help implement efficiencies that its staff had identified. The county’s current contract with the company totals $21 million, but on Tuesday, the board will decide whether to sign an amended agreement with KPMG — at a not-to-exceed additional cost of $20.3 million — for work going into mid-2019.
“Engaging outside experts to evaluate county operations should produce recommendations to improve the cost-effectiveness and quality of those operations for the benefit of all our citizens and internal department users,” according to an Executive Office statement on the proposed new terms.
“Cost containment measures will allow us to maintain or improve the quality of service while holding costs even and re-investing efficiency gains in improved technology and service improvements,” the EO stated.
KPMG manager Ian McPherson told the board last month that operational modifications orchestrated by the firm in the public safety arena had resulted in $41 million in savings.
“This is not a short journey. It’s a transformation,” McPherson said. “Our plea is, stay the course. You’ve unleashed opportunity, and there’s some excitement out there. You can see a way forward.”
Board Chairman John Tavaglione has been among the firm’s biggest boosters, lauding KPMG for “outside the box” methods and saluting its “great progress” in re-tooling the Riverside County District Attorney’s Office and the Sheriff’s Department.
Supervisor Kevin Jeffries, a fiscal hawk, has questioned whether any measurable changes have actually taken place, or if it’s all window dressing.
Jeffries’ concerns appeared to be bolstered by Sheriff Stan Sniff during budget hearings last month, when the county’s top law enforcement officer told the board that while he respected KPMG’s efforts, he had yet to hear of high-dollar reforms, which would be welcome as the sheriff’s office struggles to overcome a “very bare bones” condition on the frontlines and stares at a $30 million to $50 million deficit in 2017-18.
According to the proposed amended contract, KPMG’s personnel would remain on hand to assist the Department of Human Resources in achieving $50 million in savings through organizational changes.
The Department of Purchasing & Fleet Management would also receive assistance in “right-sizing” its vehicle fleet and overhauling management units to garner up to $40 million in savings.
Operational reboots in the public safety agencies would also put the county on a path to net $100 million in savings, mainly via “staffing and scheduling optimization, demand and capacity management and analytical support,” according to the Executive Office.
Other county entities targeted for reform under the amended compact include the Department of Animal Services, the Department of Code Enforcement, the Department of Planning and the Department of Public Social Services.
— City News Service
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