After being on hold for more than two years, the city of San Diego’s competitive-bidding process for 911 ambulance service looks like it’s headed for yet another delay.
In August, state officials declined to approve the city’s formal request for proposals (RFP), saying county officials must perform the process, according to a memo released by the city Tuesday.
Expecting to send its 911 service out to bid this September, the city extended its contract with ambulance provider Rural / Metro through June 30. However, entering into a new contract by next summer now looks increasingly unlikely.
At a minimum, the state’s decision will delay the ambulance RFP by “a matter of months,” Scott Chadwick, San Diego's chief operating officer, wrote in the memo. “In a worst case scenario, the state’s decision could impact the city’s ability to determine how its paramedic services will be provided and under what financial terms.”
Based on a 2010 appellate decision concerning Butte County, state officials have taken a hard stance on which entities can issue RFPs for ambulance service. In San Diego’s case, the state Emergency Medical Services Authority (EMSA) has said that only the county-run local Emergency Medical Services Agency (LEMSA) can issue the RFP.
With the city's support, the county appealed the state's decision on Aug. 29. The state’s Commission on Emergency Medical Services will make the final determination. No date has been set for a hearing.
Craig Gustafson, spokesperson for San Diego Mayor Kevin Faulconer, issued this statement to CityBeat:
“Mayor Faulconer strongly believes that a spirited competition for the City’s ambulance contract can lead to better response times for San Diego neighborhoods and lower costs for taxpayers. He urges state authorities to reconsider their decision so that the City can put its contract up for competitive bid and allow San Diegans to decide which provider can best serve San Diegans in the future.”
In 2011, following allegations that Rural / Metro embezzled more than $17 million from the city, officials dramatically restructured the ambulance provider's contract and prepared a competitive-bidding process.
By 2012, then-Mayor Jerry Sanders’ staff had completed an RFP document but never released it. Then, when Mayor Bob Filner took over, he further delayed the process to consider allowing the San Diego Fire Department to bid.
If the county takes over the process, it’s unclear if a new RFP document will need to be drafted.
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