The overall score for this Request for Proposals is 52 percent, which makes this RFP a moderate to substantial risk for applicants.
This request for proposals (“RFP”) is for the implementation of a Targeted Approach to Jail-Based Programs and Services. This jail-based program model seeks to provide programs and services for incarcerated individuals, including “individuals assessed as moderate to high risk to reoffend in the community, individuals with mental health and/or substance use needs, young adults, women and those above the age of 55.”
The goal of this RFP is “to help individuals cope with the stressors of incarceration, promote positive engagement while in custody and minimize the likelihood of further involvement with the justice system post-release” through evidence-based programs.
The Targeted Approach to Jail-Based Programs and Services RFP is complimentary to the Post-Incarceration Community-Based Transitional Services RFP.
The New York City Department of Corrections (“DOC”) 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 the DOC 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, there are too many unknowns in the RFP for providers to develop their best response. At the pre-proposal conference, because the DOC was unprepared to provide a definitive answer to some of the providers’ questions, three massive addenda were released in October and November. For instance, there was much confusion about the funding structure for this program. The RFP stated that this will be a hybrid performance-based contract; however, the DOC revised the payment structure to line-item budget reimbursement. The RFP also mentioned that “a separate proposal must be submitted for each competition pool,” but never states what those competition pools are and at the preproposal conference, the DOC indicated that they will revisit the question at a later date. Then, in an addendum, the DOC confirmed that “there will be no competition pools in the DOC contracts.” It is extremely difficult for potential contractors to develop their best proposals with such crucial information being administered so late into the process, which gives providers potentially less than a month to prepare their proposals.
Burdensome Partnership Requirements
The RFP requires primary contractors to work with at least two subcontractors with annual budgets of $5 million per year or less. Although it is critical to work with smaller grassroots organizations that know their communities the best, it is a risk in this RFP to place parameters and limit the organizations that you can work with, especially considering the population that is being served through this program and what services are provided. Because these requirements limit your choices of subcontractors, this can be a risk in terms of how many organizations have the capacity to do this type of work while also ensuring quality. There is also the issue of whether providers have adequate time to create partnerships with subcontractors given the late release of the addenda and the looming proposal deadline.
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 jail-based programs, it is crucial that the DOC include cost escalators in their contracts.
The RFP asks that providers hire individuals with “lived experience in the criminal justice system,” which is important to carry out this program to clients; however, there are hurdles for these individuals to obtain security clearance for Rikers and borough-based facilities. The DOC stated that “justice-involved individuals and their clearance applications will be processed the same as non-justice involved individuals.” This creates a burden for contractors to hire staff with “lived experience” and this makes it difficult for contractors to staff up the programs in time while facing these additional setbacks. The DOC should ensure that there is an expedited clearance process for these individuals without any additional administrative burdens on the contractor.
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.