The overall score for this Request for Proposals is 44 percent, which makes this RFP a moderate risk for applicants.
This request for proposals (“RFP”) is to serve individuals leaving New York City jails through a combination of in-custody/in-community and comprehensive post-release services including mentoring, job training and support, therapeutic services, housing, and other social services. Through this holistic model, the City “seeks proposals that will create a network of comprehensive services throughout New York City using innovative partnerships between large and small service provider organizations and local neighborhood-based institutions.”
The goal of this RFP is “to reduce the likelihood of repeat criminal justice system involvement by:
- Offering comprehensive employment, therapeutic, and supportive social services to individuals leaving New York City jails.
- Tailoring opportunities and services to individuals’ specific risks, needs, and interests, inherently valuing individual choice and autonomy.
- Engaging clients in services through building trusting relationships, including employing individuals with lived experience in the criminal justice system to conduct outreach and deliver services.
- Providing services in neighborhoods with the greatest numbers of individuals released from jail by partnering with local faith-based or cultural institutions, small businesses, and other neighborhood organizations.”
The Post-Incarceration Community-Based Transitional Services RFP is complimentary to the Targeted Approach to Jail-Based Programs and Services RFP.
The Mayor’s Office of Criminal Justice (“MOCJ”) is the contracting agency, and the anticipated contract start date is July 1, 2020.
This RFP provides for an initial line item budget, and during the second contract term, metrics will be established to move towards a performance-based model. HSC is optimistic about this approach and appreciates MOCJ for incorporating the Nonprofit Resiliency Committees’ work around Performance-Based Contracting into this RFP. Performance-based models only work if metrics are tested, and we hope this will be a collaborative approach to building outcomes that can be replicated in future RFPs across agencies.
Inadequate Time to Respond
Although the RFP was released in September and the proposal deadline is in November, four important addenda were released in October and November giving providers only a month or less to fully prepare their proposals.
HSC and its members are appreciative of MOCJ for hosting a networking event for all prospective vendors to support subcontracting partnerships. However, prospective contractors are encouraged to work with four or more subcontractors, which requires more time to establish effective partnerships. Additional time should be provided for respondents to develop subcontractor relationships and develop clear and solid proposals.
Burdensome Partnership Requirements
“Organizations that are proposing to provide reentry services as a prime contractor will be expected to directly provide or contract with an external back office/fiscal conduit organization or company in order to help support the back office/fiscal needs of subcontracted providers.” Because there are multiple organizations involved in implementing this program and because primary contractors are working with smaller neighborhood-based organizations, it would be difficult for primary contractors to not only coordinate the work between the primary contractor and at least four subcontractors, but also track the progress, payments, supervision, and outcomes of the program.
We are appreciative of the payment structure being a line-item budget without an annual minimum per organization, which means that organizations have the option to create budgets with the full costs of implementation. However, the program is looking to serve 9,000 clients annually, and with potentially $18 million available for the first year, which averages to about $2,000 per client. This is not enough funding to support key elements of the program critical to its success such as reentry mentors being stationed at courthouses and jails at the point of release to address the immediate needs of clients, the provision of employment-related supportive services, therapeutic services, and other supportive social services. We hope that when contractors submit their proposals, MOCJ will work closely with providers to determine what it actually costs to run a successful program and address the gaps in funding.
Lack of Cost Escalators
This RFP is a three-year contract with up to one three-year extension, meaning providers could potentially receive the same funding for six years. Nonprofits struggle to meet rising costs as rates on contracts are not increased from year to year to address an increase in the costs of delivering services. With the current underfunding of post-release services programs, it is crucial that MOCJ include cost escalators in their contracts.
The RFP asks that reentry mentors, transition coordinators, and mentor and clinical supervisors “would ideally be individuals with lived experience in the criminal justice system…” Although it is laudable that contractors employ individuals who have similar experiences to the clients served through this program, it is difficult to get clearances for formerly incarcerated individuals to work on Rikers Island. MOCJ should work with the DOC to ensure an expedited process so that there are not any barriers for these individuals to work and serve their communities and any administrative burdens on the contractor.
The RFP also states, “Reentry Mentors would be stationed in or near jails and/or courthouses (e.g., at the Perry Center on Rikers Island, in mobile units/vans parked outside borough-based jails and/or courthouses, across from the Rikers bridge, at Queensboro Plaza, etc.) throughout the five boroughs to address individuals’ immediate needs at the point of release.” Although MOCJ states that they are flexible in providers proposing the best way to implement the pick-up of individuals from jail upon discharge, this could potentially require staff to be on call and available for pick-up at all hours of the day and night since they would not know when individuals are released; a costly and burdensome request for providers.
The HSC RFP Rater assesses the feasibility, opportunities, and risk in City and State human services procurements. Rater scores are based on the RFP and related documents available to the public via New York City’s HHS Accelerator or New York State’s Grants Gateway. The rater consists of 60 questions developed and tested by a team of procurement professionals. The questions are based on information that is necessary to help prospective proposers assess risk.
Each answer is weighted based on the degree of risk inherent in the subject of the question. Answers that imply low to moderate risk are allotted points on a lower scale range compared to higher risk questions. For compound questions, the answer to both parts must be “yes” or “not applicable” to be considered low risk. Scores are calculated by adding all the question scores together. The higher the score, the greater the risk. The scoring range is from 60 to 230, with 0 percent risk equal to a score of 60 and the maximum risk score or 100 percent equal to 230 points. Users can view the answer to each question by clicking the down arrow next to each section to expand the section.
The HSC RFP Rater is not a substitute for the due diligence necessary to inform individual organization decisions.