County Avoids Low Bid In Contract For Recorder Docs

(December 30)  The county of San Bernardino will pay a Sun Valley-based company a cool $5 million to micrograph and index documents filed with the assessor/recorder/county clerk’s office over the next two years.
In 2010, San Bernardino County in a reorganization transferred the county recorder’s function to the county assessor’s office and the auditor-controller was  made the county treasurer-tax collector.
Since that time, the office of the assessor, recorder and county clerk have been held by a single individual overseeing those departments.
At its last meeting in 2013, the board of supervisors  approved a $5,000,000 contract with PFA, Inc. of Sun Valley to provide micrographics, film conversion, indexing, and redaction services for the assessor-recorder-county clerk- recorder’s division from January 1, 2014 through December 31, 2016, with two one-year options to extend the term of the contract.
According to San Bernardino County Assessor-Recorder-County  Clerk Dennis Draeger, “The assessor-recorder-county clerk [will] utilize the services of PFA, Inc. to provide micrographics, film conversion, indexing, and redaction work for a three-year term, with two one-year options to extend the term of the contract. This contract is necessary to support assessor-recorder-county clerk’s current and future information management plans and will allow assessor-recorder-county clerk to function in a fiscally-responsible and business-like manner.”
Draeger continued, “This contract includes four distinct types of work, all of which are vital to the daily operation of the recorder division. The first type of work, micrographics, involves converting scanned images to microfilm and vice versa. More than 550,000 documents were recorded by assessor-recorder-county clerk in calendar year 2012, and all of those documents were received in image form or were scanned in-house. Those documents are then converted to microfilm to preserve permanent county records as mandated by state law. The second type of work, film conversion, places digital, microfiche and film images of documents on silver or Diazo film for more durable preservation. The third type of work consists of indexing fields on recorded documents that can then be used to retrieve the document images within the recorder’s system. The fourth type of work, redaction, involves creating a public record version of each official record by redacting the first five digits of each social security number found in an official record, as mandated by Government Code Section 27301. All four types of work will involve current documents; in addition, documents dating back to January 1, 1980, will be redacted as mandated by Government Code Section 27301.”
According to Draeger, PFA has had the county contract for these services since 2006.  He said the county sought bids on the service in April, obtaining bids from seven interested vendors, HOV Services of  Carson; CSI Computing System Innovations of Apopka, Florida; Extract Systems of Madison, Wisconsin; American Cadastre LLC of Herndon, Virginia; Xerox ACS Enterprise Solutions of San Ramon; PFA; and Midwest Micro Imaging of Golden Valley, Minnesota.
“Staff from the  assessor-recorder-county clerk’s office and the purchasing department reviewed all of the proposals and independently evaluated each proposal’s merit based on technical ability, cost and references,” Draeger said. “To determine technical ability, the evaluators took care to note minimum vendor and proposal requirements and rated the vendors on understanding of the assessor-recorder-county clerk’s needs, accurate and complete description of technical processes, ability to handle sensitive data, ability to meet timelines, and experience. The vendors were asked to provide costs per unit of service instead of estimating an overall contract amount. Requesting costs per unit of service is more realistic than requesting an overall contract amount because the work is very technical and involves many components, the amount of work required will fluctuate with the activity of the real estate industry, and the vendor will be completing additional preservation projects of county records. Estimates of an overall contract amount could have resulted in a vendor significantly over- or under-bidding the contract.
Providing costs per unit of service also reduced the likelihood of unanticipated costs developing during the contract.”
According to Draeger, “The evaluation committee recommended PFA for a contract to provide micrographics, film conversion, indexing, and redaction services to the assessor-recorder-county clerk’s office based on the cumulative decision that their technical ability exceeded the ability of the other vendors and their references were superior. PFA was not consistently the lowest or highest bidder when comparing vendors’ costs. However, due to the technical nature of the work involved, accuracy was felt to be more critical than cost. PFA provides an accuracy rate of 99.95% with quality assurance controls at no additional charge. Due to a previous protest regarding redaction services, great effort was taken to assure uniformity and fairness during the evaluation process. Despite staff’s effort, an appeal to the decision to award the contract to PFA was received by the purchasing department. The purchasing agent  communicated with the vendor and addressed the questions put forth in the protest.”

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