Department Operations Updates: SEPTEMBER 1, 2021

This post includes a summary of recent Dallas County department operations updates relevant, specifically, to members of the Dallas County Commissioners Court.  

Team updates include:

  • Purchasing
  • Pretrial Services
  • Southwestern Institute of Forensic Sciences (SWIFS)
  • Public Defender’s Office
  • Small Business Enterprise (SBE)

Purchasing

Director: Michael Frosch

Michael Frosch, Director of Purchasing

Our department remains committed to delivering timely service to its clients through strategic and competitive purchasing while working diligently to maximize purchasing power and establishing business opportunities for local, small and minority communities. 

Our department, working with the County Auditor’s Office and Budget and Evaluation, successfully released $13,683,767 in departmental encumbrances. This initiative resulted in 2,941 separate encumbrance releases. We want to thank all of the departments for their cooperation on this critical initiative.  

Our department continues to implement contracts to support the client departments’ operational needs. To date for FY2021, Purchasing has submitted 177 Court agenda items in the estimated amount of $160M, releasing 23 requests for proposals and authorizing nine separate public auctions.   

In collaboration with key stakeholders, we would like to highlight a few significant contract awards approved by the Commissioners Court to date:

  • July 6, 2021 – Five-year master agreement for the purchase of vaccines for Health and Human Services (HHS).
  • June 15, 2021 – Two-year service contract for real estate broker services.
  • June 1, 2021 – Three-year service contract for an on-site integrated business solution to manage and distribute inventory associated with fleet services.
  • May 18, 2021 – Three-year general marking service agreement, which provides an avenue for a professional marketing campaign to be developed.
  • May 18, 2021 – Three-year service contract for the restoration, preservation, and repair service of historical record books and other records for the Dallas County Clerk’s Office.
  • May 4, 2021 – Five-year license and maintenance agreement, and professional services contract for the implementation of Oracle Fusion cloud based enterprise resource planning software.
  • April 20, 2021 – One-year master agreement for a turnkey vaccine administration solution.
  • January 1, 2021 – Five-year acquisition service contract for body-worn cameras, electrical weapons, and in-car camera systems. 

Our department continues to create vendor-training opportunities to promote competition and create a more transparent public-procurement process.

  • We created customized training videos for the public on how to utilize the online-procurement platform, which will increase vendor knowledge and participation in the bidding process.
  • Recently, we participated in a virtual business connection seminar intended to increase vendors’ knowledge and discuss upcoming procurement projects.
    • On August 11, 2021, Michael Frosch participated as a guest speaker at the Irving-Las Colinas Chamber of Commerce “Business Connection” event. The event was well attended and resulted in several new registered vendors to compete on Dallas County solicitations. 
  • We have an upcoming Town Hall with Commissioner Daniel, which will be a hybrid event (virtual and in person). The Town Hall will be held on August 26, 2021, at 10 a.m.-12 noon.

Michael Frosch, Purchasing Director, and Mario Alvarado, Assistant Purchasing Director, successfully completed all requirements for the renewal of their certifications with the National Institute of Governmental Purchasing. Mr. Frosch’s and Mr. Alvarado’s certified purchasing buyer designation will expire in five years. 

Our department welcomed three new employees during this quarter.

  • James Doss, Contract Specialist (August 16, 2021)
  • Nancy Martinez, Buyer (April 19, 2021)
  • Zavieone Pirtile, Buyer (April 26, 2021)

Congratulations to Brandon Fitzgerald, Contracts Specialist, for his recent promotion to Contracts Manager with the Facilities Department.  

Pretrial Services

Director: Duane Steele

Duane Steele, Deputy Director of Pretrial Services

Our department applauds our staff for their exceptional work during the COVID-19 pandemic.

During the pandemic, our department continued their operations of essential functions. Staggered work schedules enabled our supervision staff to work from home with laptops and turn in a daily activity log. With the county starting jury trials in June, vaccinations available, and plenty of PPE, our department slowly increased staff working on site. In July we went to full onsite operation. For the defendants we supervise, we keep the foot traffic low and have them report by phone unless equipment and/or compliance issues arise.

Our department recognized employees of the month for June and July.

  • June – Dawn Pitman:  Dawn goes above and beyond for her department and is a great leader. She works very hard to make sure all policies and procedures are followed. She cares about our department’s mission and takes her job duties and responsibility to the public seriously. She is an awesome asset to the ELM team.
  • July – Abel Zavaleta:  Abel has been tasked with assisting the ELM unit and has done a great job in this role. Abel has consistently had a team player attitude and been very helpful in this transition. He takes this role and our department’s mission seriously and has stepped up without complaint. He has become an asset to the ELM unit.

Southwestern Institute of Forensic Sciences (SWIFS)

Director: Jeffrey J. Barnard, M.D., Director and Chief Medical Examiner

Jeffrey J. Barnard, M.D., Director and Chief Medical Examiner of SWIFS

Our Forensic Biology Laboratory researched, developed, and implemented ongoing COVID-19 testing for post-mortem cases investigated by the Office of the Medical Examiner beginning in the latter part of FY2020.

  • Since the testing was brought on-line in May 2020, SWIFS has performed 6,551 tests, 522 yielding positive results, with 5,883 negative and 11 inconclusive tests.
  • The new testing capability includes a rapid turnaround time of approximately 24 hours. The prompt availability of COVID-19 test results provides critical information needed by medical examiners conducting death investigations during the pandemic.
  • Testing conducted by SWIFS has identified COVID-19 positive decedents previously not known to local health authorities, leading to a better understanding of the incidence of COVID-19 in our community and enabling improved contact tracing.
Forensic Biologist III Ken Balagot, Forensic Biologist I Chad Donelson, Forensic Biologist II Carrie Mayes, and Forensic Biologist II Esirioghene Tasker, members of the SWIFS COVID-19 testing team. Not pictured: Forensic Biologist II Michelle Sharp.

Our Toxicology Laboratory developed and validated improved testing capability for the Cannabinoids in Blood testing using a liquid chromatograph- tandem mass spectrometer (LC-MS/MS) method during FY2021.

  • Law enforcement agencies submit evidence specimens collected by the agency to our laboratory requesting blood testing for cannabinoids. Test results are used as part of criminal investigations and may also become evidence in subsequent prosecutions.
  • We now have the new capability to detect cannabidiol (CBD) and 11-hydroxy- Δ9-tetrahydrocannabinol, a metabolite of THC. The expanded testing was prompted by the increased prevalence of the substances, and/or by their inclusion in the recently published ASB Standard 120, “Standard for the Analytical Scope and Sensitivity of Forensic Toxicological Testing of Blood in Impaired Driving Investigations.”
  • Previously, only Δ9-tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) and 11-nor-9-carboxy- Δ9-tetrahydrocannabinol, another metabolite of THC, were identified and quantitated using this method.
  • The laboratory also used this opportunity to validate a lower limit of detection and quantitation based on the guidance in ASB Standard 120. Adherence to these new standards and guidance documents is not required; however, the Laboratory is proactive with professional standards evaluation and implements testing changes based on these recommendations, where practicable.
Toxicology Laboratory liquid chromatograph- tandem mass spectrometer (LC-MS/MS) used to conduct cannabinoids testing.

Our department joined Dallas County Office of Homeland Security and Emergency Management and other local agencies to conduct a regional functional mass casualty exercise on August 11, 2021.

  • The virtual response to multiple mass casualty incidents was a collaborative effort that involved a virtual HCC-E operation functional exercise (healthcare patient tracking/reunification) and the DFWA CCTA Functional exercise.
  • The exercises are designed to validate plans and readiness by performing duties in a simulated operational environment.
  • The exercise identified the need for a revision to the current Dallas County process for submitting State of Texas Assistance Requests (STARs) on behalf of the Office of the Medical Examiner. In response, a revised procedure has been developed.

Our department is continuing the collaboration with Dallas County Health and Human Services on a federal grant designed to investigate respiratory virus morbidity in medical examiner cases. The grant project now has been extended through December 31, 2021.

  • In collaboration with the Dallas County Health and Human Services department, SWIFS has been awarded a Centers for Disease Control/Council of State and Territorial Epidemiologists funding to identify unexplained respiratory deaths occurring outside the healthcare setting. This grant provides enhanced capacity to identify COVID-19 deaths as well as other causes of unexplained respiratory deaths in adults and children. 
  • The grant funds, in part, medical examiner supplies and laboratory testing for respiratory viruses (including COVID-19), bacterial infections of the lungs and/or blood and other cultures as appropriate. The grant also funded a needed laboratory-grade freezer to expand storage capacity and enable specimen retention and proper storage throughout the extended grant period.

Our Criminal Investigation Laboratory and the Breath Alcohol Technical Supervision Program were granted continuing accreditation by ANSI National Accreditation Board (ANAB) following a surveillance review along with a FBI Quality Assurance Standards Audit earlier this fiscal year.

  • The Criminal Investigation Laboratory is accredited as a “testing laboratory” and the Breath Alcohol Technical Supervision Program is accredited as a “calibration laboratory” under ANAB standards.
  • In Texas, laboratories conducting forensic analyses of physical evidence for use in criminal proceedings are required by statute to be accredited by the Texas Forensic Science Commission (TFSC); ANAB accreditation fulfills TFSC requirements for also receiving accreditation from the TFSC.

Our Office of the Medical Examiner operation was granted continuing full accreditation by the National Association of Medical Examiners (NAME).

  • The NAME reviewed operational assessment documents submitted by the OME and then conducted an on-site inspection in late June 2021.

Public Defender’s Office

Director: Lynn Pride Richardson

Lynn Pride Richardson, Chief Public Defender

The Dallas County Public Defender’s Office remains committed to our mission, vision and values, and we are motivated by the belief that all our clients are entitled to receive effective legal representation. We continue to take a client centered holistic approach to the legal representation of our clients.

Our department has implemented business-process-improvement strategies to ensure effective management and application of our resources.

  • We continue to conduct monthly, office-wide trainings for all employees, which includes continuing legal education trainings and orientation for new employees.
  • As part of the orientation process, we provide new employees with training materials and one-on-one practical training.
  • We have implemented meaningful performance reviews for all staff done on a quarterly and yearly basis.
  • We continue to monitor employee workloads to track effectiveness and efficiency.
  • Our attorneys were assigned in excess of 1,979 new cases for the month of July.
  • Our attorneys disposed in excess of 1,835 cases for the month of July.
  • We continue to collect and analyze data pertaining to caseloads, staffing levels and services to assess and ensure effective management and application of resources.
  • We are developing new relationships and maintaining existing relationships with stakeholders and community partners by meeting with them monthly or quarterly.

Our department’s implementation of a new public defense case-management system is on track to be completed by the end of 2021.

  • The department continues to work with Dallas County IT and Purchasing as part of the negotiation process. The evaluation process and scoring are complete.
  • Dallas County Purchasing, Dallas County IT and the Public Defender’s Office is in the process of reviewing the preferred vendor’s contract.
  • We have met with the proposed vendor and our Dallas County partners to draft a signed contract to be presented to the Dallas County Commissioners Court.  

Our department’s administrative and executive teams continue to meet regularly with county leaders, community partners and other court stakeholders:

  • University of North Texas School of Law
  • Southern Methodist University
  • Dallas County Administration
  • City of Dallas South Dallas Drug Court
  • North Texas Behavioral Health Authority (NTBHA)
  • Behavioral Health Leadership Team (BHLT)
  • Criminal Justice Advisory Board (CJAB)
  • Dallas County Criminal Justice Department
  • Dallas County District Attorney’s Office
  • Dallas County Criminal Courts
  • Dallas County Sheriff’s Office
  • Unlocking Doors
  • TORI (Potter’s House)
  • Texas Criminal Defense Lawyer’s Association
  • Gideon’s Promise
  • National Association of Public Defenders
  • Churches and community-based organizations

The office continues to monitor and evaluate the effectiveness of Uptrust Messaging to determine the effect it has on jail population, court appearances and failures to appear. We submit monthly reports to the Dallas County Administrator, his staff and the Dallas County Commissioners that head the Jail Population Committee.

The department head meets with the department’s executive leadership team twice a month for training on the OKR model (Measure What Matters, the Five Dysfunctions of a Team, County Administrator Department Head Training).

Our office is engaging existing and new funders through transparent communication.

  • We submit quarterly reports detailing our operations to current funders and submitted proposals quarterly to existing funders. We expect that these proposals will result in a continuation of our programs.

Our office is excited to welcome investigator Gregory Tidwell to our team.

  • On August 16, 2021, we hired Gregory Tidwell to replace Samme Glasby as a Public Defender Investigator II.

Our office continues to work diligently to provide effective legal representation to all clients, even during the pandemic while the courts operate both in person and remotely. We are careful to follow county protocol regarding distancing and the wearing of masks.

The Public Defender’s Office is working with the Office of Budget and Evaluation to assess and request federal funding (ARP) for additional staff to assist the department in managing cases that have been backlogged as a result of the limited operation of the courts during COVID-19.

  •  Our office is also working with the Office of Budget and Evaluation to assess the cost effectiveness of the department for reporting purposes and in an effort to hire additional staff and to justify additional resources.

The department created an Equity, Diversion and Inclusion Committee that will meet monthly to review office policies and procedures.

The director worked with Dallas County department heads in the justice divisions to draft an EDI policy that will be presented in an upcoming Commissioners Court meeting.

Chief Public Defender Lynn Pride Richardson was recognized by Metro News as a Superb Woman for uplifting women of color and for spreading the message that leaders show love and empower people instead of destroying them with hate and disrespect.

Our department’s staff has participated in and facilitated nation- and state-wide training.

  • Chief Public Defender Lynn Pride Richardson spoke to incoming law students from the University of North Texas about the Public Defender’s Office and the criminal justice system with co-presenters, the Honorable Judge Barbara Lynn, Dallas County District Attorney John Creuzot and Dallas County District Clerk Felicia Pitre.
  • Chief Public Defender Lynn Pride Richardson provided training for defense attorneys, prosecutors, treatment court professionals and criminal justice practitioners at the National Association of Drug Court Professionals (NADCP) 2021 All Rise Conference that had over 4,000 attendees. She co-presented with Oregon/Benton County Prosecutor John Haroldson a session titled “Prosecutor & Defense Counsel Working Effectively on Treatment Court Team.”
  • At the Texas Criminal Defense Lawyers Association’s (TCDLA) 2021 Rusty Duncan Training for criminal defense attorneys throughout the state of Texas, Vickie Rice, Chief of the Special Programs Division, provided training on competency and mental health. Additionally, Cliff Duke, a Felony Assistant Public Defender, and Christian Smith, a Public Defender Investigator, jointly provided training on the appointment and use of an expert, with an in-depth review of Ake v. Oklahoma.
  • Chief Public Defender Lynn Pride Richardson participated in a forensic strategic listening session with mental health public defenders throughout the state and representatives from the Texas Health and Human Services Commission (HHSC) regarding a strategic plan for diversion, community integration and forensic services within the State of Texas.

Small Business Enterprise (SBE)

SBE Outreach Officer: LaSonya Allen 

Our department continues to enhance features to our B2Gnow Compliance Reporting System.

We fully implemented additional modules that enable users to:

  • Digitize the process of receiving and evaluating subcontractor plans.
  • Facilitate Dallas County’s need to manage insurance requirements of its vendors.
  • Monitor and analyze projects comprised of multiple contracts, creating a unified and aggregating view of full project participation.
  • Monitor projects and ensure contract compliance with electronic imports for contract and payment tracking (on-going).
  • Set SBE goals based on statistical data and past achievement (on-going).

Our department continues to partner with Purchasing to host outreach activities to educate the small business community on how to conduct business with Dallas County.

  • In conjunction with Public Works, we conducted a pre-project meeting to promote and educate the business contracting community on projects delivered in Dallas County in advance of the release of an Invitation for Bid for the FM 1382 contract.
  • Planning Commissioner’s Court Town Hall Event Series (County Judge Jenkins and Commissioners Daniel, Price, and Garcia).
  • Outreach to 59 Chambers of Commerce in our metropolitan statistical area – Dallas, Tarrant, Collin and Denton Counties – including attendance at member networking events to provide basis Dallas County SBE information with the goal of marketing and direct outreach engagement to enable members to do business with the county.
  • Outreach to 156 North Texas Region business organizations, including a direct query to gauge the type of technical assistance they desire with the goal of providing educational support related to Dallas County SBE and purchasing processes.
  • Attendance at industry events like ACCESS 2021, RBCA Chairman’s Luncheon, Hard Hat, and RHCA/FWHCC Build Fort Worth 2021 Expo to promote the bidding opportunities procured by Dallas County.
  • We created an online and digital presence for the SBE department (LinkedIn, Facebook, and Twitter) and managed those social media accounts to provide a weekly update on current bid opportunities and basis information through posted articles about small business enterprise/administration.

Our department welcomed Linus Spiller-Craft, a new SBE Outreach Officer, in May 2021.

  • Mr. Spiller-Craft is establishing strong relationships with internal and external partners to build Small Business Enterprise (SBE) capacity and to maximize SBE participation in Dallas County’s competitive solicitation process. In addition to direct engagement with chambers, organizations, and public-sector entities, Mr. Spiller-Craft has created a social media presence for Dallas County SBE along with a video social media campaign modeled after the Metro Los Angeles campaign featuring testimonials of existing and former prime and sub-prime contractors.

The SBE Program is committed to promoting the participation of small businesses in all aspects of contracting with Dallas County.