Audit Finds Oversight Problems at Agency for Developmental Services
The Bureau of State Audits recently released a report finding that regional centers overseen by California's Department of Developmental Services did not follow proper protocol when awarding contracts, "California Watch Blog" reports.
DDS oversees the state's 21 regional centers, which contract with other not-for-profit organizations to provide in-home care and other direct services to residents with developmental disabilities. The regional centers are not-for-profit agencies that spend around $3.4 billion annually to serve 240,000 residents.
The Assembly Committee on Accountability and Administrative Review ordered the audit of DDS, which found that:
- The regional centers have issued millions of contracts without allowing for competitive bidding;
- The centers have undertaken limited action to create an objective base for setting rates for services; and
- Workers at regional centers have a fear of retaliation for reporting suspected wrongdoing.
De La Torre's Legislation
Assembly member Hector De La Torre (D-South Gate), chair of the Assembly committee, said the audit findings reinforce earlier reports about DDS' "favoritism in contracting, a lack of information about how regional centers spend billions of public dollars per year and the pervasive fear of retaliation among regional center staff and service providers."
He said his committee has introduced legislation that would provide employees at regional centers with the same whistle-blower protections that cover state workers. De La Torre said he hopes the bill will pass this session.
Rita Walker, deputy director of DDS, said the department has sent guidance to regional centers reminding them to strengthen their policies and procedures on contracting, conflict of interest and service purchasing.
A DDS spokesperson said the agency conducts its own audits of regional centers, which it will begin posting online by Aug. 30 (Jewett, "California Watch Blog," 8/25).This is part of the California Healthline Daily Edition, a summary of health policy coverage from major news organizations. Sign up for an email subscription.