The Department of Justice (DOJ) operates ten criminalistic laboratories throughout the state. The laboratories provide analysis of physical evidence and controlled substances and, when requested, assist local law enforcement agencies in processing and analyzing crime scenes (including clandestine drug laboratories). The department also operates a state DNA analysis laboratory in Berkeley.
The 2000-01 Governor's Budget proposes $14.2 million from the General Fund for two new criminalistics laboratories to replace existing laboratories, purchase of an existing facility, and a parking lot improvement project. Two of the replacement laboratories have previously been considered by the Legislature.
We recommend that the Legislature delete $5,470,000 requested for construction of the Santa Rosa Replacement Laboratory project because preliminary plans are not complete and construction funds will not be needed in the budget year. (Delete $5,470,000 under Item 0820-301-0001 ).
The budget proposes $5,470,000 for construction of the Santa Rosa Replacement Laboratory project. Funding for preliminary plans was approved in the 1998-99 Budget Act, and property acquisition and working drawing funds were appropriated in the 1999-00 Budget Act.
Preliminary plans for this project were originally scheduled for completion in December 1998. This completion date was revised to April 2000 when the Legislature appropriated funds for site acquisition and working drawings last year. Now, the Department of General Services (DGS) reports that preliminary plans will not be complete until June 2000 and working drawings are not scheduled to be completed until May 2001. Given the history of this project and the current schedule, construction funds are not needed in the budget year. Furthermore, the Legislature has no information to substantiate the need for the requested amount. Therefore, we recommend the Legislature delete $5,470,000 under Item 0820-301-0001 (1).
We recommend that the Legislature delete $6,548,000 requested for working drawings and construction for the Redding Replacement Laboratory because the project is one year behind schedule and the request for working drawings and construction is premature. (Delete $6,548,000 under Item 0820-301-0001 ).
The budget proposes $6,548,000 for the working drawings ($308,000) and construction ($6,240,000) for the Redding Replacement Laboratory project. Funding for property acquisition and preliminary plans was approved in the 1999-00 Budget Act. When these funds were appropriated, the preliminary plans were scheduled to begin by August 1999 and be completed by April 2000. The DGS now reports that the plans will not begin until August 2000. Thus, the project is one year behind schedule and the request for funding for working drawings and construction is premature. Further, because of this delay, the Legislature has no information to substantiate the need for the requested amount. Consequently, we recommend the Legislature delete $6,548,000 under Item 0820-301-0001 (2).
We withhold recommendation on the request for $2,108,000 to acquire the Freedom Replacement Laboratory pending information on the condition and value of the facility.
The budget includes $2,108,000 from the General Fund to exercise the purchase option of the Freedom Laboratory (Santa Cruz County), which is currently leased by the department. The department indicates that purchase of the building will result in a net savings over continuing to lease the facility. However, no information has been provided to substantiate the value or condition of the building. Before the Legislature appropriates funds to acquire this facility, DGS should investigate the condition of the building and prepare an assessment of the property value. The investigation should include building code compliance, seismic stability, and other possible building deficiencies that may need to be corrected in order to fully evaluate the true cost and benefits of purchasing the facility.
Lacking these evaluations, the Legislature does not have the information it needs to appropriate $2.1 million to purchase this laboratory. Consequently, we withhold recommendation on this request pending receipt and review of this information.