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Other Budget Issues

Last Updated: 5/20/2011
Budget Issue: Funding for public safety technology modernization project
Program: Department of Parks and Recreation
Finding or Recommendation: Approve requested reversion of $4.5 million of unexpended General Fund monies, but deny both the requested appropriation of $4.5 million from State Parks and Recreation Fund and reappropriation of $1.6 million from Off-Highway Vehicle Trust Fund for this technology project. It is premature to approve the budget-year funding until a new Special Project Report has been submitted to the California Technology Agency reflecting a rescoping of the project that is currently under development.
Further Detail

The Project. The Department of Parks and Recreation (DPR) and the Department of Fish and Game (DFG) are involved in numerous law enforcement and medical response activities. The DFG contracts with DPR for dispatch services. As their methods of dispatching rangers and wardens is outdated and has created critical delays in response times, a technology modernization project has been under development for several years. The Feasibility Study Report for the information technology project was initially approved in 2007. The project involved the replacement of DPR's current dispatch system with a modern Computer Aided Dispatch (CAD) system, commonly used by police forces and emergency service operations.  The contractor awarded the bid in 2007 to replace DPR's current system with a CAD system was incapable of fulfilling the contract, reflected in significant project delays. As a result of these unaticipated delays, General Fund monies appropriated in prior years for the project have not been spent. The DPR is currently in the process of rescoping the project, and a revised Special Project Report (SPR) will then be submitted to the California Technology Agency (CTA) for its review and approval. The CTA has requested that the department consider some "off-the-shelf" alternatives as part of its analysis.  

Governor's May Revision Proposal.    The Governor's May Revision proposal proposes to revert  $4.5 million of unexpended General Fund monies, and shift a like amount of funding for the project to the State Parks and Recreation Fund in the budget year. The Governor also proposes to reappropriate $1.6 million from the Off-Highway Vehicle Trust Fund for the project.

LAO Recommendation.  While the department has demonstrated the need for an updated dispatch system, we think that it is premature for the Legislature to approve budget-year funding for the project because many details about the ultimate scope, cost, and timeline  of the project are currently unavailable as the department is currently rescoping the project. As noted above, a revised SPR has yet to be submitted to CTA.  Without prejudice to the merits of the project, we recommend that the requested budget-year appropriation from the State Parks and Recreation Fund and reappropriation from the Off-Highway Vehicle Trust Fund be denied.  Given the unspent General Fund monies from a prior appropriation, we recommend that the requested reversion of these monies be approved, thereby creating a General Fund benefit. Finally, we note that the State Parks and Recreation Fund is an appropriate alternative funding source to the General Fund to support this project should and when the Legislature ultimately provides funding for it.